Album Review: Six Organs of Admittance – ‘Time Is Glass’

Posted: by The Editor

As a project, Six Organs of Admittance arose from Ben Chasny’s desire to combine finger-picked guitar with ambient drone; Chasny has since expanded beyond those initial tenets to encompass experimental melodics, international harmonic influences, and ambiguous guitar tunings. Records such as Dust & Chimes and For Octavio Paz, a concept album where Chasny only sang on one song, established Chasny as a singular musician and a visionary in contemporary composition.

Chasny’s latest opus Time is Glass is less experimental and more wistful and meandering, reminiscent of American country folk tradition, whether consciously operating in that tradition or not. These new songs are rooted firmly in either folk and ambient, with the record toggling between the two in quick succession. “Hephaestus” is a massive sonic wall of instrumentals, almost trance-like, while on the lead single “The Mission,” Chasny sticks to straightforward acoustic guitar, with lace-delicate fingerpicking.

“Theophany Song” and “My Familiar” both reckon with the psychological and the divine. “A little voice goes on / to a voyeur in your own mind / that watches you all the time,” Chasny intones, with a tender piano line adorning the song. The voyeur could be God, or it could be a homunculus, or God could exist in our brains and not the outside world, or it could be a divine encounter taking place wholly internally. “My Familiar,” ostensibly about pets that bite, contains the brief line “a promise to God holds us down,” a meditation almost tossed away in the broader scheme of the album, and of time.

In Time is Glass, Chasny does not seem to be seeking adventure or pushing any sonic limits, but rather creating a hushed peace tinged with melancholy. On “Slip Away,” Chasny sings “and it breaks and it breaks and it breaks,” over and over. Glass is shiny, but it’s also sharp.

Disappointing / Average / GoodGreat / Phenomenal

Elizabeth Piasecki Phelan

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