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School of the Flower

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ben Chasny has had a busy 21st century thus far. He's had six new recordings come out since the year 2000 and two others reissued, and he's become a full-time recording and touring member of Comets On Fire. School of the Flower stands somewhere between Compathia and For Octavio Paz, a mysterious, beautifully executed series of airy yet mysterious vocal and instrumental songs that put Chasny's elliptical guitar playing front and center (as has become the norm, he also plays organ and sings) and are draped in Chris Corsano's darkly textured percussion and organ work. The album kicks off with "Eighth Cognition/All You've Left," with free jazz drumming skittering around the forefront with a series of droning organ chords and skeletal single-note runs before it all gives way to a tenderly played acoustic guitar introducing Chasny's lilting vocal. "Saint Cloud" features a gently chanted vocal just beneath layered six- and 12-string guitars and droning electric sounds that develop into a controlled roar near the tune's end. The hinge piece on this set is the 13-and-a-half-minute title track. It begins with a hypnotic guitar pattern that gets doubled and then tripled up and sprawls into the stratosphere of wailing psychedelic electric guitars, spare percussion, and noise before winding down and dissembling itself into silence. Another standout is "Thicker Than a Smokey," a cover by the obscure (and apparently vanished) psychedelic-era folksinger Gary Higgins from his Red Hash album. It's an oddity here because it is so utterly straightforward as a piece of psych-folk, like it could have been on a Stephen Stills solo outtakes record. In all, School of the Flower is another step in a remarkable journey. It is full of emotion yet never sophomoric, it is full of aural poetry and never pretentious, and it is full of that certain mercurial grace that makes each new offering from Six Organs of Admittance something wholly other and an essential listen. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Amazon.com

On his best, most varied album to date, Ben Chasny AKA Six Organs of Admittance lays down gentle finger picked acoustic instrumentals, free improv tribal craziness, strange songs sung in an elfin pitch that surely drive all the unicorns wild, and tightly controlled drone compositions that veer from minimalist and meditative to crazy guitar freakouts where you feel like ripping off your clothes and running free through the meadow for all eternity. School of the Flower, the Comets on Fire sound effects whiz’s lucky seventh album, is his first for Drag City, and thankfully the first recorded in a real studio. Whether you’re a newcomer to Chasny’s sublime psychedelic folk or were a fan from the get-go and own all the limited editon vinyl, no one could possibly be disappointed with this album. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 25, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Drag City
  • ASIN: B0006L5S32
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,203 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Truly a head trip of an album. Vivid acoustic melodies repeat on end, sent adrift through dense layers of ambient drones and rolling freeform drums as overdriven squalls of electric guitar erupt haphazardly throughout. Acoustic plucking serves to anchor each of the tracks, providing the listener something familiar to latch on and cling too as otherworldly soundscapes roll in and threaten to wipe out any traditional song elements. In terms of psychedelic presentation, this stuff works to wonderful effect. A few of the tracks are more traditional folk numbers, that though not quite as interesting as the others, provide nice reprieve, with Ben Chasny's (aka Six Organs of Admittance) own sublime vocals supplying much needed human contact. All together, this makes for beautiful, ominous, and assuredly psychedelic folk rock that doesn't require any hallucinogenic supplements to be enjoyed, though that's not to say that they might not be warranted under the right circumstances ;).
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Format: Audio CD
At times trance-like Western ragas, if you will -particularly in "Procession of Cherry Blossom Spirits"- and then simply gorgeous folk -"Lisboa"- which can also erupt into furious electric interludes -"School Of The Flower"- or be enriched with great vocals, like "Thicker Than A Smokey."
It is not that easy to describe, nor are Chasny's influences that obvious. I guess this is what happens when someone ventures and succeeds at making original music.
If I were to name other people, for the sake of reference, John Fahey would come to mind, yet not so much due to a similar guitar style but because of a common gift for conjuring up a powerful spirit.
All in all, an authentic and imaginative new sound, music -thinking of this album's title- that is definitely schooled in the wildness and beauty of flowers.
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By Just Zach on October 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I don't usually go for contemporary folk music. That term itself, "folk music," conjures up images of oh-so-sensitive and self-important, delicate artistes. Lame hippy crap in the same bland mold as Dave Matthews, minus the big budget and slick production, that clings to some simple-minded notion of "purity" by virtue of the fact that it's just one painfully earnest dude with an acoustic guitar. To most of these types I'm inclined to say, "Dylan, Goodman or Prine you ain't; get off my lawn and go take a bath."

But this, this is something altogether different. Initial listenings sounded like a cool juxtaposition of fingerpicked acoustic guitar and electronic white noise. While that juxtaposition remains central to my interest in "School of the Flower," it grabbed me upon closer inspection how well this guy does both elements. No matter how harsh and grating the noise gets, it never overwhelms the record's peaceful heart; no matter how reassuring the acoustic sounds the noise is never too far away. I've really never heard anything quite like it: at its noisiest, "School of the Flower" posesses an unruffled placididity that evinces a Buddhist sense of detachment in spite of its own internal distractions. Plus, I like the way the vocals are pushed down in the mix and heavily echoed on some songs.
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Format: Audio CD
Definitely refined from early works, but I still always long for all-instrumental with this wise strummer, here coming at the expense of less hippie-dippy, still surface-level vocalizations.
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Format: Audio CD
In his song "The Beatles", Devendra Banhart sings:

RickiTickiTicki Canta el Troubador
Como la flor mas gorda que no tiene sabor
Que rica es la vida que rico es el amor
Mata el Toro no mates al toreador

Yo si oigo a Donovan
Yo si oigo a Marc Bolan
Yo si oigo a Ben Chasny
Six Organs me gusta a mi

Marc Bolan and Donovan are pretty obvious Banhart influences. Don't know where I've been, but up until I heard Banhart's song, I'd never heard of Ben Chasny/Six Organs. Great stuff, and yes, stylistically similar to Banhart.

If you like Banhart and Six Organs, chances are you'd like Jesse Poe and his project Tanakh. Same type of quiet and sometimes droned out trippy neo folk.

As an aside, I'll take the opportunity to give a shoutout to my amazon friend Juan Mobili who I keep running across time and again as our musical tastes keep crossing paths.
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