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Six Organs Of Admittance
Hexadic II Danny Riley , December 4th, 2015 18:46

With his Hexadic works, Ben Chasny has been making bold attempts to move away from the hermetically-crafted, multifaceted sound usually cultivated under his Six Organs moniker. Though always exploratory, there was certainly an element of cosiness around his spiritual acid-folk, from its grounding in exquisite open-tuned guitar figures to his use of anchoring, immersive drones. Hexadic, and now Hexadic II find him cast completely adrift from such moorings, with Chasny now relying on a self-developed, card-based aleatoric compositional system to create the notes and phrasings for the albums. However, fascinating though these methods are, as listeners all we can really take away from an album is how it moves us. And in the case of Hexadic II, that is strangely, almost subliminally, but nevertheless powerfully.

The feeling of the subliminal is hard to avoid in Hexadic II. Rather than the precise and exacting sound one might expect from systems music, we get tumbling, convoluted compositions possessing all the dead-end irrationality of dream logic. The way that Chasny's multi-tracked vocals float in and out of the mix on tracks like 'Anyone's Dawn' (with lyrics also composed using the aleatoric system) makes it sound as if the vocals are backward-masked, as if delivering occult messages à la 'Stairway To Heaven'. A harmonium drone hovers at the edge of hearing as vocal murmurs drift on in the background, whilst Chasny's arachnoid guitar figures tumble over each other. All this would feel like mere systematic intellectualism were it not for the deeply strange emotional resonance the piece inspires - though conceptually impenetrable, 'Anyone's Dawn' expresses an almost penitential sadness. 

The singer-songwriter paradigm is Chasny's Trojan Horse on Hexadic II. The disquieting nature of these tracks has a lot to do with his decision to work with the folk singer-esque guitar and vocal format. It's a lot easier to accept flagrant atonality when emitting from the reeds of a troupe of feral free jazzers or a group of Japanese destructo-rockers. On Hexadic II however, things feel too close for comfort; Chasny's vocal incantations murmur treacherously and the angular acoustic guitar phrases seem to crawl up your neck. It's clear that there is a heavy intension here to disconcent, as can be seen from the way that flutterings of electro-static worm through the alien blues of 'Arm their Rows', or the way that the conventional, mantra-like psych-folk of 'Wasp Code' is brutally undercut by the outspoken dissonance of 'Burial Empty Found'. Just take a look at those track titles: 'Fear Havoc Night', 'Vile Hell'. Though amorphous and only vaguely realised, there is a definite sense of dread throughout this work. 

At times the album becomes a little difficult to follow, with the momentum failing during the twists and turns of songs such as the slightly ponderous 'Vile Hell'. However Chasny often manages to claw back interest by adding slight colouring to the stark instrumental palette, most notably in the gloaming electronic tones towards the end of 'Cut Angle', probably his most marked move into the realms of ambient music. A dense and difficult album, Hexadic II has a lot to explore beyond its immediate instrumental features. Beautiful album closer 'Poor Guild', feels like a reward - a hopeful, consoling benediction after the madness has passed. Sour dissonances clash with a pretty but painful resonance amidst the tracks shimmering backdrop of strings, Chasny's voice floating hopeful, high and lonely above the arrangement. This is Six Organs Of Admittance at its finest, with Chasny's compositional system finally summoning a kind of bleak ecstasy, underscoring the album's challenging artistic statement with a moment of plangent emotiveness. Don't let the talk about systems and strategies put you off - you only need ears to dissolve yourself in Hexadic II's freaky aura.