A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Hexadic, the newest LP from psych guitar maestro Six Organs Of Admittance begins with more of a whimper than a bang, with broken, dyslexic drumming, and a creeping, crepuscular, mysterious middle-eastern guitar twang from Ben Chasney‘s six strings. This has caused other reviewers to bemoan the availability of experimental music, making it hard to differentiate the cream from the crap. Popmatters’ Benjamin Hodge Olson compares Hexadic to the legendary Washingtonian drone psych masters, Earth:
Now go ahead and listen to “Wax Chance”, and then go listen to the first track on Earth’s crushing 2014 release Primitive and Deadly, “Torn By the Fox of the Crescent Moon”. The basic format is the same; a wall of drones and feedback over which a blues riff chugs and grinds.
Olson goes on to criticize Hexadic for seeming “very improvisational”, finally concluding with “If experimental or psychedelic music does not go somewhere it will lack emotional impact.”
I certainly agree with Olson, as i have a hatred for bland, academic improv records that only a semi-professional reviewer of avant garde improv records can muster. I swear to Christ, if i hear one more experimental clarinet technique or frame drum workout, i’m going to hit someone.
The problem with Olson’s reading of Hexadic is that it doesn’t take Chasney’s own musical journey into consideration. For people who have been following since the early days of For Octavio Paz or Nightly Trembling will be stunned by the mixture of frenetic, electric guitar and broken jazz beats – a far cry from Chasney’s opium-soaked middle eastern reveries of yore.
Hexadic is not without precedent, however. It comes across as a deconstructed School Of The Flower, (SOOA’s finest hour), with Hexadic‘s opener ‘The Ram’, sounding like a shambling, uncertain take on his duet from School with free drummer Chris Corsano, ‘Eighth Cognition’. While Corsano’s contribution started things off with epicness and bombast, ‘The Ram’ is more uncertain, plodding and crawling, like Swans and The Arkestra scoring Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac.
To be reductive, Hexadic is like a slambang amalgamation of School Of The Flower with what has come after, electric opuses like Shelter From The Ash, as well as Chasney’s work with psychonauts Comets On Fire.
As ever, Chasney’s tone is impeccable, irreplaceable, and worth the cost of admission alone. The man practically begs to have you listen to every note he’s ever laid to tape, so you won’t miss any miracles.
Improvisational music, by its very nature, seems to evoke a kind of ritualism. Musicians gathering in a sacred circle, and letting fly. The problem is, when people focus on the trappings of ritual, the superficialities, we are left with a bunch of third rate coverners, copies of copies of copies of suburbanite witches who have never even seen a forest.
Ben Chasny, and his group of merry misfits, on Hexadic redefine our ideas of ritual and ceremony. This is a seance for kids raised on Sonny Sharrock records. A graveyard trawl for metalheads and ocean hopping punks. Just goes to show that not all academic music is for eggheads, that not all world music is for yuppies, that not all magick is meant for people in flowy white robes.