There are just some albums that take the quiet and ominous blanket of night to truly show how good they really are. It’s hard to explain, but I guess it’s just that some albums are just so barren and desolate that it takes an atmosphere that’s equally as barren and desolate to truly work their magic. Drone-y and ambient-ish works by Yo La Tengo fit this categorization as a “night album”, as does the psych-pop of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ By The Way
and the sludgy ambience of Jesu’s latest. But the album I find myself coming back to night after night is the wonderfully diverse Dark Noontide
, the fourth album by Ben Chasny, or, if we go by his solo moniker, Six Organs of Admittance.
shouldn’t be put on to lift any spirits. From the morose acoustic epic “Spirits Abandoned”, where Chasny sings “I know what you’ve done/what you’ve become” against shivering violins and guitars playing what essentially could be an acoustic version of an Ennio Morricone song, to the five minute slowly climaxing ambient number “Regeneration”, every song here is downright depressing. Most of the songs here stick to being dark, avant-folk compositions, but some songs tend to differ and venture into other territory, with mostly positive results. The title track is seven minutes of ambience and straight guitar feedback, with a fluttering, disjointed drum beat tying everything together into a calming, post-rock epic. “A Thousand Birds” is the only upbeat song on Dark Noontide
, and in an alternate universe, is prime hit single material. Plus, Chasny decides to plug in and pay tribute to his other
band, and delivers a blazing, feedback-laden solo that John Frusciante should be envious of. But don’t think that because Chasny rocks out for one song that the entire gloomy, psychedelic atmosphere is lost, because the next track, “On Returning Home”, delves straight back into the drone of before.
At only eight tracks and forty-one minutes, Dark Noontide
is a remarkably condensed album. However, it is not a perfect one. The raw, lo-fi production gives off the feeling that this album was recorded in a boiler room, and the final track, the eight-minute “Khidr and the Fountain”, is very anti-climactic for an album that depends so much on swelling crescendos, and is mired by awkward breaks and somewhat awkward songwriting. However, sour last track and iffy production aside, Dark Noontide
is surely a striking achievement, and a worthy pickup. If you’re envisioning some future late nights alone, this is an album you need.