Ben Chasny emerges with his most bucolic and pretty Six Organs of Admittance album to date | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Ben Chasny emerges with his most bucolic and pretty Six Organs of Admittance album to date


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In 2015 Ben Chasny, sole constant member of the long-running Six Organs of Admittance, created what he calls the hexadic system in an attempt to break familiar patterns and habits in his playing and writing. The rules, which revolve around the dealing of a deck of cards in relation to notes on the guitar, injected a jarring, unstable quality into his music, first in an electric configuration on Hexadic and then, with even greater displacement, in a solo acoustic singer-songwriter mode on Hexadic II. I can’t say with certainty what effect the experience had on him, but he sounds refreshed on his gorgeous, intimate new acoustic album, Burning the Threshold (Drag City). Much of it is inspired by literature—opener “Things as They Are” derives from a musical about the life of poet Wallace Stevens on which Chasny is collaborating—and the record features a stellar cast of players that includes fellow guitarist Ryley Walker, drummer Chris Corsano (Chasny’s bandmate in Rangda), and keyboardist Cooper Crain (Bitchin Bajas). Chasny’s presence and meditative poise still dominate, however. He sings of romantic contentment on “Under Fixed Stars,” where vocal harmonies from Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang shadow lines such as “I kept your letters inside my sleeve / Between my heart and my hand they breathe,” and “Taken by Ascent” is a blues-flavored call to action that’s the most forceful thing on the album. The current touring version of the band consists of Chasny and guitarists Donovan Quinn (his partner in New Bums) and Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers).   v

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