CD Reviews: Six Organs of Admittance and Throw Me the Statue

Six Organs of AdmittanceLuminous Night (Drag City)Ben Chasny, the guitarist known as Six Organs of Admittance, makes music that evokes gigantic, ponderous moods. But where his earlier work sounded like field recordings from ancient Buddhist temples, his past few albums have grown increasingly cinematic, each one evoking a vast, wild landscape that's part Wild West, part bleak psychedelic fantasy (think Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, etc.). For his latest album, Luminous Night, Chasny enlisted West Seattle–based Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth) for production; the result is a brief but rich batch of songs that are both mind-quieting and stormy. Chasny opens the record with "Actaeon's Fall," an instrumental reading of the Greek myth (in brief: Actaeon sees the beautiful Artemis naked, who turns him into a stag; Actaeon is subsequently killed by his own dogs). Here Chasny lays down a feathery acoustic melody, over which a flute flutters, punctured by a electric warrior riff. The seven songs that follow—a balance of instrumentals ("Cover Your Wounds With the Sky") and restrained vocal-and-guitar numbers ("Ursa Minor")—are blanketed by Dunn's production, gentle as billowing curtains and chilly as January winds. Present throughout is the viola of local freak-genius Eyvind Kang, who weaves his way in and out of the songs like some mystical thread. BRIAN J. BARRThrow Me the StatueCreaturesque (Secretly Canadian)If Throw Me the Statue's first record, Moonbeams, skirted around frontman Scott Reitherman's potential as a pop songwriter, then the band's sophomore effort, Creaturesque, is the realization of all the promise that shone through Moonbeams' best tracks. But where Moonbeams was inconsistent and rough around the edges, Creaturesque is much more polished, a bright, buoyant opus of similarly hooky, uptempo songs. While TMTS' success still hangs on its guitar hooks and propulsive song structure, it's the synthesizer, the brass, and the little accents like white noise or an occasional xylophone ping that stand out this time. The only thing that hasn't changed at all since the last record is Reitherman's disjointed, occasionally indecipherable prose, which he croons in a high-pitched tenor that can sound either soft and ethereal or thin and reedy.Though Creaturesque's success rides chiefly on melody, tunes can't save a pop song from unappealing verbal cliché. But Reitherman crafts his lyrics as deliberately as his instrumentals. Creaturesque simmers with sexual tension, a well-traversed theme Reitherman addresses in riddle and metaphor. In "Pistols," he sings "You little boys fall on your pistols/Annie, does your boyfriend know?/You seek a habit and a small feeling of danger/Slow glide down through the canyon/Tearing the layers off with abandon." "Pistol" and "canyon" are obvious euphemisms, but the song's three-word refrain cinches it: "Pull me in." At its core, Creaturesque is about reconciling our basest animal instincts with the complex emotional demands that make us human. Because we're not animals. Not exactly. We're just...creaturesque. SARA BRICKNER

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