Last year in an interview for Magnet, Ben Chasny claimed he had "bipolar tendencies." The guitarist meant to contrast the ultraheavy rock he plays in the quintet Comets on Fire with the psych-folk tunes he writes for Six Organs of Admittance--which is usually just Chasny and his four-track, despite the name. (He says it comes from a Buddhist term for the five senses plus the soul.) But the last couple Six Organs albums, with their mercurial swings of style and mood, prove that Chasny is perfectly capable of cycling from one extreme to another all by his lonesome. On Compathia (released last fall on Holy Mountain) he sings on nearly every track, veering from romantic longing to nihilistic rage in a quivering, nakedly emotional voice that soars above overdubbed layers of hand drums, electronics, and percussive strummed guitars. Its companion album, For Octavio Paz (issued on CD this spring by Holy Mountain, after Time-Lag's tiny vinyl pressing sold out), is almost entirely instrumental and draws much of its strength from Chasny's accomplished fingerpicking; he takes a more measured path to satori here, building slowly and deliberately from pensive, rustic miniatures to the incandescent closing epic, "The Acceptance of Absolute Negation." For Sunday's set he'll play material from both albums, as well as some from a forthcoming studio outing for Drag City that he'll record next week with drummer Chris Corsano. Corsano is also performing on this final night of the Million Tongues Festival, with free-jazz saxophonist Paul Flaherty; drone merchants Fursaxa play first, and long-lost British folkie Simon Finn headlines. The evening's "sideshow" performances are by M.V. Carbon, Tom Carter, and Davenport. $15. Sunday, August 8, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Cam Archer.