Review : Six Organs Of Admittance - RTZ
NoripcordIn a 2003 interview for a Wire magazine piece in which David Keenan ostensibly coins the term “New Weird America” while depicting its denizens as aesthetically disparate and largely indefinable, Ben Chasny paints his vision of the amorphous movement with broad, toxic strokes: “a web of inspiration and beauty that will bypass all of the mundane aspects of whatever we call art, like museums and galleries and eBay and bullshit record collecting.” Perhaps “bypass” was too strong a word: the combo of prolific outputs and material necessity has forced Chasny (one man, Six Organs of Admittance,) and the good majority of his out-folk contemporaries to have their limited-run LPs and hand-made CD-Rs wrapped up in the “bullshit record collecting” that seems contrary to their sub-market egalitarian ethos.
What, then, do we make of RTZ, a 2-CD/3-LP collection of Six Organs rarities with a sumptuous layout and a relatively modest price tag? There’s a clue in the title: RTZ is named for the “return-to-zero” reset button on a Tascam 484 four-track. The act of giving these rare recordings a wide-spread release seems equivalent to zeroing the elitist secret handshake of those who possess limited pressings. This is a generous gesture of leveling ground, one that serves to demarcate the material fetish (the “bullshit”) of scarcity from the spiritual abundance of the music itself, which is now available to all who seek it, rather than handful who could find it first.
The more literal reading of this set’s title is an allusion to its genesis machine: these are four-track recordings of supreme more-with-less pedigree. Those of us who aren’t already familiar with these tracks and are getting limited mileage out of Chasny’s recent exercises in finely honed border-psych will find that these patient, meditative, sky-minded nocturnes are just what the witch-doctor ordered. ...full text
PopmattersCommitment. Everything about Six Organs of Admittance’s latest release smacks of it, starting with mastermind Ben Chasny’s recording its entirety at home on a Tascam cassette 4-track recorder. RTZ stands for “Return To Zero”, the button that allows the user to quickly return to the beginning of the track. These are not humble little bedroom tapes, but ornate, epic collages of sound and song that speak of real devotion: to the Eastern- and psych-tinged melodies and instrumentation that flavor 6OOA’s folk symphonies, to home recording, to active and involved listening.
RTZ compiles various pieces, mostly released, and re-released, between 1999 and 2004 on various small labels, only one of which does not break the 10-minute mark. Anyone who has ever spent time with a Tascam or Roland or any other console recording device knows the amount of dedication and patience such feats must have taken. Consequently, the size and scope of RTZ requires commitment on the part of the listener as well, which is duly rewarded.
The opening piece, “Resurrection”, is divided into five movements across one nearly 20-minute track, beginning with the slightly cacophonous strings and bells of “As Voyage, In Voyage” and ending in a creaky, moody coda (“Her Breath, A Prayer”). To isolate one section at the expense of any of the others is still possible in the digital age of cutting and pasting, but not advisable. The experience of RTZ, as in much of Six Organs of Admittance’s music, is meditative journey rather than easily digestible pleasure....full text
StrangeglueI have been listening to this kind of music since about the age of twenty, when I found out that it existed. That discovery included current and recent groups, like Charalambides, Pelt and Steven R. Smith as well as leading me into the past to the strange music of Danny Ben-Israel.
The seemingly endless tributaries in the delta land of what is most often called psych-folk or drone music occupy a thinly populated land, one that is hard to travel and only extensively mapped by a few hardworking mail-order websites, shops and collectors. Despite the temporarily increased influx of the inquisitive, the scenester and the press following the rise to fame of a few, it remains an example of outsider music: partly because it is content to be that way and partly because not that many people will ever like it.
Despite including others within the group at one time or another, Six Organs of Admittance is effectively Ben Chasny (these days however one can expect the live show to most often include Elisa Ambroglio of Magik Markers). He is responsible for one of my all time favourite albums, School Of The Flower and one of my all time favourite melodies, '˜Elk River' from the outstanding For Octavio Paz L.P.
So you can imagine the excitement with which I greeted the arrival of RTZ, a triple vinyl (double cd, for those of you stuck in the past, eighty-eight-part wax cylinder for the technophobes) collecting two hours worth of rare and out-of-print releases and some previously unreleased material. I had encountered none of it prior to this day, except for the Nightly Trembling LP which a friend lent me briefly. It has all been re-mixed and re-mastered by Chasny into the form of five sprawling twenty minute caverns and two shorter pieces. I am not sure if the longer passages merge music that was once segregated, or if they originally occupied this form. Either way, it is immaterial to me....full text
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