Enigmatic one-man production machine Ben Chasny releases, at the very least, one album a year under the Six Organs of Admittance moniker. With his fourteenth studio release, the humble workaholic collaborated with noise miscreants Comets on Fire — resulting in sludgy latest album Ascent.
Gone is the feverish reverence present in The Sun Awakens and Luminous Night’s droning mantras. Ascent oozes space rock from every crater, entrenched with the visceral noise of Surfer Rosa-era Pixies and the cerebral psychedelia of Amon Düül. The album listens as a singular distortion-laden opus, with the album’s eight tracks fluidly blending into one another. The lack of a divide is disorienting — or maybe you could say apt — with the album’s conceptual intent to, in a sense, elevate the listener into a spiritual state of consciousness.
Ascent swirls with bellowing guitar solos, overall lingering a bit too long to stun with the spiritual force it intends. Five-minute-long opener “Waswasa,” rumbles with scruffy guitar riffs that plateau rather than peak. Similarly, the ominous build in “Solar Ascent” chills but only momentarily, the track abruptly ceasing before climaxing. Yet when kept concise, Ascent glimmers with a handful of raw, heady bangers “Even If You Knew” and the gorgeous “They Called You Near.” Volatile bass overtones and echoing Frank Black-esque vocals lap over seminal track “Close to the Sky,” before erupting into oscillating shimmers of psychedelia, spinning you around until your feet have fully left the ground.
Ascent may be a disappointment to those craving the acoustic celestial journeys present on previous releases, especially Awake on the Floodplain. Despite a sharp shift in direction, the spirit of Ascent floats — sometimes upwards, at times skittish and swooping underneath clouds — but nonetheless rising.