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We know how to trip anymore? Can we keep bullshit distractions at bay? Not tweet it? Or share links? Or Skype while peakin’? Can we tether “document fever” with talk? Weird, selflessly breathless, ecstatic talk? Can we live in that/this moment and make it fuckin’ enough? Can we strip and roam city streets and smear sidewalk dogshit on our faces and let lunar vibrations be our decimal–graded “urgent, important album of the year contender” even if it’s nothin’ more than songless, lyricless, hum?
Don’t know. Can’t really say. But Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny may think it possible. His music, especially this new record, Ascent, conveys an emphatic “Yes,” as it’s little more than an olympic acid-eater’s vade mecum, where devotees stand as DeQuincey did in Confessions of An English Opium Eater: “loathing and fascinated.”
Directions? They’re undeniable. Band bullies us. Yasgur’s farm’s debunked via Snopes. Make-believe as moonwalk. The “child of God,” some six-year-old found bound ‘n’ gagged in a trash bag, cruciform carved about its flesh, graveyard dead. “We are stardust / We are golden,” a terminal trophy for every participant, everyone special as the next.
Isn’t this what Six Organs lays bare in opener “Waswasa?” Isn’t it Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s opening riff to “Woodstock” sliced to bone? Isn’t it beaten black, and relegated to an eternity of conflagration within the FM band’s “classic rock” fire?Isn’t “Waswasa” a songless, lyricless, hum? Isn’t it weird, breathless, ecstatic talk? It roams, smears shit, and let’s be. It’s title, quietly alluding to the loud Islamic concept of Big F Fear, sounds Seussean, as yokel as Yasgur.
“Waswasa” is a guidebook for heads: their own personal Magellan, the ship’s six blotter squares, nalgene water bottle, sweater for later when you start to get shivery. No points to connect, no events to articulate. There’s just there. Ascent is a talker. A GPS sledged into your skull, every street scene coming up through your eyes augmented with prompts from some orifice-less tart, a voice you’d lick the leather off the boots of if she’d just come as clean as “Close to the Sky” does.
The heart sleeves are littered with Les Rallizes Denudes bootlegs, Mo Tucker shaking sleighbells while a cadaverous Nico monotones to a crowd of black-clad effete. Chasny, he sings stuff. Does it matter what he sings? Not really. When Chasny’s guitar tops El Topo, his words make as much sense as “non-linear psychedelic Western” does. It’s a continent-sized electric clit bumped into terror tilt by a portable generator.
After all, Hendrix and Sharrock and Rudolph Grey sublimated self-pleasure through massive electric current, wood, steel strings. They were the worst lovers, taking like marauders, giving nothing but nothing, leaving the awful end’s blood ‘n’ come in their selfish wake. Chasny ain’t far off the map. “Conveying information” is so goddamn overrated. We won’t bring ourselves to admit as much. Passivity: simply sitting, silently “witnessing” should be the new multitask. It’s a disposition where music like Ascent thrives, climbs, threatens to dive, and then ascends straight through the sky’s ceiling.
“Solar Ascent” is the record’s microcosm— sun-scarred, emaciated. Was it a bird, or snake, or spider? Legs now like talons. Beak broken into shapeless brown, black body. Feathers shattered into ashen dust. The smell. Like electrical fire. Like burning plastic. A load of tires lit up with kerosene, spilling smoke tarblack into sky. Icarus there, here, again in the smoke. See him? Cock here. Cunt there. See them? Christ’s shroud. Crying Holy Mother. They’re here, there, gone. Nothing like metastasizing Rorschach to get the party started.
Joni Mitchell: “We gotta get ourselves back to the Garden.” What to do when we find it hideously overgrown, grassy floor exchanged for fossilized prophylactics, broken bumwine bottles, a few dogs dead, bloated with rot? Flies for doves. Brick shit for gold. Meth for stardust: smoked, snorted, and rubbed into a toothless, motor-mouth to quiet down its demands for extinction by its own hand. “Do it. Do it. Do it.” Scratch that itch. Crane that tweaker’s head and see “One Thousand Birds,” a furious funnel cloud of forgotten desire, left endlessly to locate/relocate. Death the peripatetic bedouin, giving Himself in dreams, your “inner voice,” the bathroom vanity’s cold, gray oval.
Do we know not to look in the mirror when we’re tripping? See “[Y]our Ghost.” Face fallen back into youth, the smooth creases and ditches of skin creeping about a death’s head reminding us “Born to Die” ain’t just Hell’s Angel dictum. “That time of year,” “that life of man,” that That given in mealy “maaaaaaaan” and “far out” and eyes agog “wow” by J. Mitchell.
Check Wikipedia later for the facts. Just sit here, there. Listen. “Visions (From Io).” Chasny sings, “It’s a dream that keeps me breathin’ / Keep you breathin’ too.” This one tune, as “loathing and fascinated” as Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Zuma. It’s a dream that keeps me breathin’. A songless song, a lyric’s lyricless hum. A roamer’s shit-smeared gaze. An aged youth, silently witnessing. Go, you golden Child o’ God, in this moment, important, urgent, pointed directly down and ascending forever, quietly alone, for above.
MP3: Six Organs of Admittance – “Waswasa”