Six Organs of Admittance

For Octavio Paz

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Packaged and released as a complement to the 2003 reissue of Nightly Trembling -- both albums feature the same apparently Tibetan or Buddhist design of fire on their covers -- For Octavio Paz consists of various recordings done by Ben Chasny with nylon string guitar, bells here and there, and here and there his own haunting keen of a voice. On "II" -- all the songs are listed strictly by Roman numerals -- that voice is in full effect; even buried in the mix, hearing his wordless cries adds a mysterious and downright sad depth to the already melancholic guitar picking of the song. That blend of sudden emotion shot through seemingly familiar or timeworn elements is a Six Organs hallmark, and it's readily on display here, regardless of whether Chasny sings or not. Where Nightly Trembling focused around particular instrumental and thematic motifs, For Octavio Paz is more varied, ranging from straight one-take guitar efforts that are sprightly as much as they are reflective, pauses in between sudden bursts of beauty, to gentle bell-only compositions. "VI" in particular is a bit of a technical masterpiece, a non-overdubbed guitar workout that both John Fahey and Bert Jansch would doubtless nod approvingly at. But even that has to take a back seat to the concluding "VIII," a near side-long performance on steel-string guitar that at points is moving so quickly -- and with such giddy, crackling energy -- that it would deservedly put legions of guitar magazine gearheads to shame. There's a slight smudginess to some of the recordings -- perhaps intentional or perhaps a result of them being pressed up from four-track, as was Nightly Trembling -- and it sometimes hides the songs a bit beneath distortion that doesn't always seem to jibe, but that's a small complaint for such a fine release.

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