The post-rock solo project of guitarist Ben Chasny called Six Organs of Admittance has electrified. Literally. Ascent, released this year by Drag City Records, is as dense and complex as Six Organ's other 20 plus albums, but adds an electric fuzz and heaviness to the artist's avant-garde folk rock.
Hallucinatory guitar compositions are layered over sparse vocals and steady, complex psych-grooves, creating the fiery sci-fi narrative of Ascent. Chasny recruited members from his long-time group, Comets on Fire, to fill out the sound on the album. It was a project that started with two skeletons of songs written around ten years ago. The songs and larger themes were set aside to focus on separate musical ambitions, but after a cosmic dream, Chasny found reason and time to recollect his ideas on the project. He expanded the sound from his normal solo, acoustic set to include the psych-folk context for his eclectic, white-noise guitar soloing.
In addition to Six Organs and Comets on Fire, Chasny associates his talents with Rangda, Badgerlore, Double Leopards, Current 93 and Magik Markers.
NUVO: How were the songs shaped [on this album]? Did you kind of use the ones from ten years ago as a kind of model or did the other ones just come to you?
Ben Chasny: Let's see. A little bit, because I kind of knew what the sound was going to be like. I kind of just wrote the whole record when I knew that everyone was going to be able to get together, just trying to keep in mind what it would sound like with a bunch of drunk dudes wailing all day.
NUVO: Right. Did working with Comets on Fire again change the writing process that you use for Six Organs at all?
Chasny: No, actually. Not really. I kind of just wrote with one acoustic guitar like I normally would. I just try to keep in mind like when everybody starts playing, because we used to play together so much. I mean it changed a little bit. I was writing for a band, not solo. It's a pretty similar process actually.
NUVO: Do you find that your creativity is more product-based or process-based? Do you get more satisfaction from the process of creating music or from the product like this piece that you've finished?
Chasny: Oh okay. That's a good question. I think probably process. Once something's done it's just like, time to get started on a new project. It's always a little sad to have something totally wrapped up. Yeah, I'm always more happy working on the middle of something.
NUVO: Where does this album fit into the largest context of other Six Organs albums for you?
Chasny: I don't really think about in terms of what records mean or where they sit. I try not to think about it like that. That's kind of other people's thing or whatever. I just kind of get to work on stuff. That's kind of where other people come in.
NUVO: What kind of things can people expect from this new sound, the electric vibe on the new Six Organs album? Is there going to be a different kind of live show going on as well?
Chasny: Well, live it's pretty true to the record. I just toured Europe and I don't know if the word got out as much that the shows were going to be as electric. A lot of people thought that it was going to be just an acoustic tour, which is what I did last time. All last year I was doing an acoustic tour. I think some people might have been bummed out, but yeah, it's pretty loud. I mean every show, the sound guy was like, "Turn your guitar amp down." And I was like, "No."
NUVO: Do you have any memories of experiences in Indianapolis?
Chasny: I haven't been to Indianapolis in a long time it feels like. I think it was like years ago. Last time I played there I think that I was really sick. So I expect to not be sick this next time!