Six Organs of Admittance’ Ben Chasny picks 10 records that shaped, improved, and educated him

Ben Chasny has been making music for decades, moving towards the essence of things – spun around by fantastic guitar playing. As Six Organs Of Admittance, he has just released a new album that takes you there, into the infinite space of his sound. Chasny spoke to us about the records that have shaped him.

In the late 2000s, when everyone wanted to be a flower child inspired by Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, one name kept popping up on various recommendation lists for the equally flowery genre of freak folk (also known as New Folk or New Weird America): Six Organs of Admission. At the time, Ben Chasny had already been releasing obscure albums with his project for ten years, ranging from meditative folk to experimental drone.

To this day, Six Organs Of Admittance stands for this sound, most recently on the recently released “Time Is Glass. In “Slip Away” Chasny leads an introverted, relaxed dream journey, in “Spinning In A River” he builds up the same mood, which he then cuts up with a distorted electric guitar. Words flow, if at all, like everything else. These nine songs, most of which Chasny recorded at home, are characterized by an enraptured coziness. The fact that the US musician can translate his mood and approach into other sounds is demonstrated by the forerunners of his upcoming record with Shackleton. (And various collaborations with other bands in the past).

When asked about the opener »The Mission« and how Chasny translates abstract ideas and feelings into his sound, he said in an interview with PopMatters: »I don’t really have a formula. The song started with a guitar line. I had an idea for a melody with two registers.« It’s not a linear process, he says, it’s nebulous, with all sorts of images and thoughts floating around and then coalescing into a solid structure. Chasny’s guitar style, which is so effortless and unassuming, helps with this.

Over the years, Ben Chasny has also played in the band Comets On Fire and with Current 93 and Richard Bishop, among others, most recently with Shackleton. He already has an impressive body of work with all kinds of connections and references, and yet each song reveals itself as its own entity, woven close to the essence of things, far from the noisy streets and houses. We asked Ben Chasny which records have shaped him, formed him and improved him.

(A) Senile Animal
Ipecac • 2006 • from 31.99€

Ben Chasny: A brilliant moment where the already legendary Melvins decide to metabolize both members of the bass and drum duo Big Business to create a two drums monolith. That’s heavy enough but it’s the fantastic harmonies and Beatles level song construction that really make this record shine.

Dirty Three
Live! At Meredith
Anchor & Hope • 2005 •

Ben Chasny: The version on here of »Everything is Fucked« may be one of my top 5 songs of all time. On YouTube there’s a video of this performance with a full lightning storm erupting behind the stage as they play. One of the greatest bands around today.

Loren Connors
Hell's Kitchen Park
Enabling Works • 1993 •

Ben Chasny: The epitome of solo bedroom recorded guitar. Nothing will ever top this record for pure 4am urban loneliness.

Current 93
All The Pretty Little Horses
Durtro Jnana • 1996 •

Ben Chasny: Guitarist Michael Cashmore’s melodies and chord progressions come from another world on this classic. This record might be the Current 93 one can most disappear into.

Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force
Marching Out
Polydor • 1985 •

Ben Chasny: I’ve noticed that if a person isn’t well aquatinted with what is known as shredder guitar, they will often think that Malmsteen’s music sounds like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. The fact is, Malmsteen has always made music much closer to the lineage of Uli Roth and Richie Blackmoore, that is, music based around a riff. This has some of his greatest songs, such as »I Am A Viking« and »Disciples of Hell«.

Kaneko Jutok
Endless Ruin
P.S.F. Records • 2001 •

Ben Chasny: The late great Kaneko Jutok’s main band was Kousokuya, who practiced a unique style of deconstructed rock music that was as ethereal as it was raw. This solo record has him playing songs that essentially sound like solo folk songs but played through a Stratocaster and a wall of Marshall amplifiers, with the exception of a pair of songs that feature a full band in full-on Crazy Horse expended solo mode.

Carlos Paredes
Guitarra Portuguesa
Drag City • 1967 • from 15.16€

Ben Chasny: Paredes expanded the sound of fado in Portugal in a way parallel to what Fahey was doing with folk music in the US. He also toured with the brilliant bassist Charlie Haden. This record overflows with melody.

Double Negative
Sub Pop • 2018 • from 24.99€

Ben Chasny: Safe to say I’ve probably listened to this record more than any other in the past 4 years.

William Parker 
 Mayan Space Station
AUM Fidelity • 2021 •

Ben Chasny: Absolutely ripping record. Always makes me want to study music and play.

Sun City Girls
Torch Of The Mystics
Abduction • 1990 • from 29.99€

Ben Chasny: Eine der besten Platten, die der amerikanische Underground hervorgebracht hat. Niemand kann den Sun City Girls das Wasser reichen, wenn es darum geht, dass es wirklich egal ist, was andere denken.