Through his 14-year run as Six Organs of Admittance, Ben Chasny has been affiliated with various underground micro-movements—lo-fi psychedelia, freak-folk, stoner rock, noise—but he’s never lingered long enough to be defined by any one. As a result, he’s already amassed a discography as dense and sprawling as the ’60s iconoclasts—be it John Fahey or Neil Young & Crazy Horse—to whom he’s been compared.
A new Six Organs of Admittance record is thus less a collection of compositions than a catalogue of Chasny’s whims, and, for Ascent, that meant reigniting celebrated San Fran acid-rock outfit Comets on Fire. As legend has it, Chasny wanted the group to back him on a Six Organs record 10 years ago; he opted to become a fully fledged member of the Comets instead, joining them in 2003 until the band went on hiatus in 2008. But even if some of its songs are a decade old—a couple appeared in more mellow form on previous Six Organs releases—Ascent’s arrival is perfectly timed.
Since signing to Drag City in 2005, Chasny has gradually incorporated more electric-guitar squall into Six Organ’s once-serene sound world. Ascent represents the apotheosis of that evolution, combining Chasny’s mystical meditations with the Comets’ face-melting mojo for a series of brain-scrambling (but precise) extended jams and acoustic comedowns.
Though it documents an assembly of old friends, Ascent is no exercise in nostalgia. Rather, by presenting an existing idea in a new context, it serves as a reminder that reuniting and reforming can mean two very different things.
Playlist picks “Closer to the Sky,” “Even if You Knew,” “Visions (from Io)”
Six Organs of Admittance play the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W.) on Nov. 28.