Album | Six Organs of Admittance – Time is Glass

Humboldt County, California is where Six Organs of Admittance began some 26 years ago, and since 2019 it is again where Ben Chasny resides and where Time is Glass came to fruition. Pure Chasny, no one else was involved in the recording process, making the collection a most singular vision, one where Chasny’s love of guitarists like Leo Kottke and Robbie Basho plays with experimental sounds and altered realities to create a most compelling work. His is a vision where forces come together in frameworks quite unexplainable and language isn’t always precise enough for what he hears in his mind.

Creating a piece for an Irish friend who had moved to a new country, and into a new relationship, ‘The Mission’ is a beautifully traditional guitar piece with lyrics that don’t really tell the tale so much as record random images. When he sings “Tell yourself/ Fire should burn us too/ Is that not the mission?” one may question what it all means, yet letting the guitar work wash over you it makes sense in a way defying logic. 

Segueing right into ‘Hephaestus’, one is buffeted into an experimental song, largely synths and droned strings that challenge notions of time, place and context. Chasny isn’t trying to confuse, rather he’s exposing the way music covers a wide range of choices. Blurring both worlds, ‘Slip Away’ illustrates how competing forces create expressions that may not scan, yet focus one’s thought processes. 

Untying more knotty compositions, ‘Pilar’ offers a respite from the complex, creating a piece that gently calms the senses, offering a counterpoint to the buffeting forces of ‘Theophany Song’. Lyrically its bent images fracture the gentle guitar and piano. As Chasny sings, “Day goes soaring/ And a little voice goes on/ To a voyeur in your own mind/ That watches you all the time,” the addition of the piano serves as a counterpoint to his fragile vocals.

With each new song Chasny’s guitar work begins to get folded into sounds and instrumental passages that challenge what you know and leave you floating on waves of sound that become more prevalent, taking these songs into realms more hypnotic, blending voices and sounds in ways that echo images. ‘Spinning in a River’ swirls and hurtles like a river gone awry, before coming back to calmer shoals. 

Like a painter who sometimes messily swirls together colors and textures to examine where things go, Chasny has found a musical counterpart. Six Organs of Admittance can sometimes be messy and challenging, yet along with way Time is Glass exposes the familiar and the fractures that make life what it is. Taking note of the time and tides, he finds ways to explore both the moments and the madness that make us human.