Music Reviews
Time Is Glass

Six Organs of Admittance Time Is Glass

(Drag City) Rating - 7/10

Necessary breaks from the demands of the often monotonous day-to-day are a gift from dogs. For Ben Chasny, known by his creative pen name Six Organs Of Admittance, his move back to Humboldt County meant that he could own and care for a dog, a life of perpetual relocation ruling out the structure and stability a pet needs. As the press release from Drag City states, dog walks were instrumental in the creation of Time Is Glass, Chasny’s latest Six Organs offering, as were his surroundings with which he’s been newly reacquainted. 

While Six Organs is a highly malleable project, the name attached to electronically-laced experimental ideas in 2021’s The Veiled Sea or the self-conceived concept for music composition used to develop the multi-chapter Hexadic series, Chasny will ultimately return to the acoustic side of his creative persona. Time Is Glass is a homecoming album in both the literal sense and per his chosen medium, psych-addled peripheral and melancholic folk, appropriately sentimental in tone. As the sole performer of every texture, melody, and underlying sound, Time Is Glass does carry with it for the entirety of its 38-minute runtime a sense of seclusion and meditation. In the song Slip Away, Chasny very richly details an attempt he made to photograph a sunrise: “Missing the morning sun / Looking for a battery / To take a photo of the dawn / I missed the whole mystery,” attempted preservation of a moment thwarted alongside the act of simply being a realtime witness. His environs facilitate sung moments like this, observations that are both reflective or left to be interpreted. 

The Mission sets the album in motion, Chasny’s voice angelic and kind of woeful as his opening stanzas are sung. He rarely strays from beautifully knotted acoustic strings, songs like the instrumental Pilar and My Familiar (which features my favorite vocal melody in the album) lush and memorable, the latter enhanced by some chunky strums of electric guitar. Heavy volume guitar sounds also appear on Spinning In A River, unexpected electric slabs filling the air as Chasny sings, “Around and around and around / In a river with you.” Initially to my ear, the pauses in Theophany Song gave the song a demo air, as if Chasny was still crafting the arrangement. Structurally loose, though lovely, piano strokes emphasize the song’s occasional drag, which are pressed with implicit hesitancy.

Meditative and slow, the drone-laden Hephaestus caters to the sort of ambient palettes normally sated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Eluvium. Summer’s Last Rays eventually mutates from a concentrated acoustic instrumental into a multilayered and near-orchestral noise piece. Sequenced at both ends of the album, Hephaestus following the intro and Summer’s Last Rays preceding the album’s final track New Year’s Song, these tracks offer variation from the album’s mostly emotional disposition. This seems to be an odd choice when you’ve yet been able to really appreciate or absorb that aspect of the record before you’re thrust into something dark and immersive. Still, as a dog walk may pass the time, it may also invite the mind to find its own chaos in the stillness of a quiet evening. Time Is Glass conveys discomfort for comfort, but no lack of determination to find it.