With Compathia, Ben Chasny takes Six Organs of Admittance further in the direction of "songs" in the traditional sense (as opposed to extended, largely instrumental, raga-like jams). Assuredly, these aren't pop songs, but they are, most definitely, songs. With Dark Noontide, Six Organs' previous effort, Chasny's folky eastern melodies were balanced by his chant-like moan. But with Compathia, he sings on every track save one, the brief title track (which functions as a beautiful instrumental breather mid-album). His voice is also noticeably pushed forward in the mix, and the songs themselves are less cluttered by percussion and other instruments, further emphasizing Chasny's singing and lyrics. As a result, Compathia almost recasts Six Organs of Admittance as a recording outfit: more of a psychedelic singer/songwriter outing now than a (largely) instrumental drone-raga folk concern. John Fahey,Robbie Basho, and Sandy Bull still come to mind when it comes to Chasny's playing, but he has simplified his style -- in a good way -- accomplishing more with less. A dark, orphic guitar figure rings though each track as Chasny tells us (for example) to "run from nightmares" (from "Run!") in a voice that sounds like it knows what it's talking about. With Compathia, Six Organs could be thought of as Devendra Banhart's sober, less whimsical companion.
Note: Ethan Miller from Comets on Fire contributes sitar to "Somewhere Between," as well as a searing burst of electric guitar to the album-ending "Only the Sun Knows" (the clear standout track), perhaps in repayment for Chasny's appearance on Comets' 2002 release, Field Recordings from the Sun.