Six Organs of Admittance is a project of incredibly prolific guitarist Ben Chasny, maybe better known for his work with psychedelic group Comets on Fire. Considering Asleep on the Floodplain is Six Organs’ 26th release since its formation in 1999, it’s hard to see when Chasny gets time to sleep.
Asleep on the Floodplain simultaneously invents and masters a new genre I can only dub “world-folk-trance.” The primary sound of the album is a simple unadulterated acoustic guitar playing technically and mathematically simple phrases, layered above a mixture of electronic drones, rumbling bass, and the occasional exotic instrument or vocal accompaniment. The album crawls at the pace of a lullaby and spends a lot of its time re-voicing old melodies, reiterating the dream-like quality through instrumental “chanting.”
Chasny took very little care with his work to pander to any sort of wide spread popular audience. For one, the genre has very little tangible substance to offer. Lyrics, when they make their rare appearance, wisp above the backtrack in an indiscernible echo, and melodies serve better to mesmerize then hum along to. It’s the type of music you might expect at one of those new-age day spas, you know, the ones with magic healing crystal treatments and the likes. Except, presumably, Asleep has a lot more thought and effort put into it then the typical electronic keyboard composites typically occupying the airwaves in such a place. In fact, discussing each piece individually in an interview with “Express Night Out,” it is evident that each song has a unique, and surprisingly intellectual, origin and inspiration.
Asleep seems to have a utility and beauty lacking in almost all other genres, and yet in a sense it is unremarkable. The album has taken droning repetitive melodies and shaped them into something striking. Yet as the album plays, it has the remarkable ability to blend into the background of your thoughts and disappear entirely. While this only adds to the mysterious hallucination of the work, it becomes difficult to pick out specific tracks I enjoyed when they all seem to blend together.
– Dave Greek, host of dc ba Mondays 9-10pm