Fricke's Picks: Six Organs of Admittance

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The Road to Nirvana
In one school of Buddhist thought, the six organs of admittance — the five senses plus the soul — are, in perfect union, the way to enlightenment. In here-and-now psychedelia, Six Organs of Admittance, the decade-old blend of band and solo project founded by California-born singer-guitarist Ben Chasny, is a bliss unto itself: chantlike Indo-folk songs that emerge from winding-staircase guitar patterns laced with carefully tailored distortion and angel-song feedback. Shelter From the Ash (Drag City) was released last year but has been excellent company on recent winter nights, with a concise, intimate warmth and unexpected vocal starshine from Elisa Ambrogio of Magik Markers. There is an abundance of cleansing guitar fire, especially in the hovering howl of "Final Wing," but Chasny sets it back in the mix, lighting the road to nirvana without incinerating it. Chasny, who also plays with Comets on Fire, dedicates this album to a late uncle who introduced him to the music of Iron Maiden. That doesn't contradict the beauty here. It just shows there's more than one path to guitar heaven.

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