Shackleton & Six Organs Of Admittance

Jinxed By Being

Drag City

Deep bass rumble meets ritual folk on an album filled with post-apocalyptic dread

Both habitual collaborators and sonic adventurers, Sam Shackleton and Ben Chasny share an esoteric sensibility that has long seen them disregarding any notion of genre limitations. Shackleton’s deep bass rumble and Six Organs’ ritual folk both echo through Jinxed By Being where together they conjure something strange and absorbing. A suite of long, conceptually linked pieces with only a passing nod to the idea of song structures, the album emanates a sustained atmosphere of cosmic dread. Psychedelic and transcendental, it is an unhurried record, outside time. Where (or even when) we are is unclear. We seem to be passing through the veil to some intangible space between worlds. A place of subdued light and heavy air, incense and ashes. The mood is hard to pin down: bleak but not crushingly dark or grim. It sounds like ghosts.

As the title hints, Jinxed By Being seems to view existence as a cruel prank, corporeality a cage. Consumed by the spirit’s desire to leave the body, escape its mortal prison, this central idea recurs across the album beginning with the spooky opening track’s incantation, “There’s a voice and there’s a pulse, keeps the corpse alive”. ‘Open Your Heart’ is an unsettling, hypnotic manta to prepare you for whatever is coming. The album’s vocals are flat incantations. Drained of personality and seemingly disembodied they repeat with an eerie calm “Open your heart, open your soul” calling you to them. It’s hard to tell if you should be seduced or alarmed.

The cinematic opening of ‘The Grip Of The Flesh’ hovers between spaghetti western and black metal, shadowy wisps of sound from Shackleton wrapping around more familiar guitar shapes from Chasny. It has a humid, bug crawling stillness. Water sounds fill the centre of the track like a soft light. It gets so calm that the arrival of a subtle rhythm hits with surprising impact. The scene changes, soaked in ecological fear and end-times tar, a chant begins, “the shattered ruins of the twenty-first century, this ritual ends with the blood of humanity.” An eerie organ whistle circles. Slowly the background haze of distortion starts consuming everything as the drums become more insistent.

The album’s thick atmosphere holds you in liminal sway. The tracks tend to have two halves, often with the second spinning out the earlier elements into something looser. Idyllic sun-dappled guitar parts overlaid on breathing drones and distant blasts of static, fragment and distort, swirling around you. On final track ‘Spring Will Return/ Oliver’s Letter’, the second part (‘Oliver’s Letter’) is almost a dub of ‘Spring Will Return’. The words float free, guitar moments slip into loops, everything becomes even more fluid and spectral as it evaporates. While it paints a post-apocalyptic picture of almost total human extinction, it finds light in eternal renewal. “The mystery must prevail as the spring that will return…”

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