Six Organs of Admittance, P.G. Six, Harris Newman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Six Organs of Admittance, P.G. Six, Harris Newman

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It's hard to imagine psychedelic folk done more exquisitely than it is by the prolific Ben Chasny, aka SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE. On his latest album, School of the Flower (Drag City), he spends most of his time leisurely exploring the hypnotic possibilities inherent in an acoustic guitar painstakingly picked. But when he indulges in a soaring space-noisy climax (as on the title track) or a bit of tender almost-straight-up balladry ("Thicker Than a Smokey"), he surpasses his already high standards of beauty. --Monica Kendrick

The carefully arranged songs that Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Pat Gubler records under the name P.G. SIX sound quite different from the free-flowing instrumentals played by Canadian acoustic guitarist HARRIS NEWMAN. But they both build on the innovations of an earlier generation of folk iconoclasts, and they both make music that's personal and very much of the moment. Gubler, who got his nickname while playing in the freak-folk collective Tower Recordings, borrows licks and lyrics from 60s British folkies Davy Graham, Anne Briggs, and the Incredible String Band on the two albums he's made for Amish Records. But his immaculately crafted settings juxtapose lilting tin whistles and harps with fuzzed-out, E-Bowed electric guitars and sputtering drum machines, and while he sings in archaic cadences, his subject matter--loss, regret, and drunkenness--is timeless.

On his debut record, Non-sequiturs (2003), Newman was clearly indebted to the Takoma school of steel-string fingerpicking pioneered by John Fahey and Leo Kottke. He buys his way out on his new album, Accidents With Nature and Each Other (Strange Attractors Audio House), with the assistance of Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron. The undulating lap steel excursion "Lake Shore Drive," along with the coolly sauntering "Driving All Night With Only My Mind," are well removed from anything his forebears have done, and better for it. --Bill Meyer

Six Organs of Admittance headlines, P.G. Six plays third, and Harris Newman plays second; Michal Blue Smaldone opens. Tue 3/8, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8.

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