Various Artists - Hexadic III - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - Hexadic III

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:7 Release Date:2018-02-23
Various Artists - Hexadic III
Various Artists - Hexadic III

Ok, let’s start with the easy stuff here. Hexadic III is the third in a series based on a composition system devised by guitarist Ben Chasny, also known as Six Organs of Admittance. The first two albums in the series included music by Chasny himself, and this third one, curated by Chasny, includes music composed by other, like-minded musicians that used this system to come up with the music included on the album.

So, that was the simple stuff. Things get a bit more complicated from here on. If the word Hexadic sounds a bit esoteric (what about Six Organs of Admittance itself?), you are absolutely on the right track. Esoteric sciences (although the ‘standard’ scientists would disagree that the two terms go together at all), are exactly what Chasny used to devise this compositional system - you would need at least one instrument (in his case, mostly a guitar), hexadecimal charts and a set of ordinary (or special devised) playing cards.

Easy? Probably not, which is why Chasny wrote a book on the subject, is holding discussion panels on it, and is maintaining a special site devoted to the theme. Ditto for Phil Legard, one of the musical contributors to this album who follows the subject quite closely, within the subject of so-called speculative music, within which Chasny’s hexadecimal system has been classified. While, Chasny’s music is a relatively known quantity, particularly among the indie music followers, a compilation of compositions that go in different directions is probably the best way to show the possible range of such a system, hence Hexadic III.

Still, the main question remains - how does this all sound? After a number of spins, it seems that to curate this project,  Chasny went by the principle of starting with compositions that might sound easier on the ear first, and then getting the things more complicated.

Moon Duo open the proceedings with “Square of The Sun” and sound not too dissimilar to Chasny himself, or something that you’d certainly put on a mixtape next to Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross”. Jenks Miller “The Hanging Man” (probably something to do with the Tarot card of the same name) adds the vocals and electronic sound effects, to veer off in a couple other directions, all to a good effect. Meg Baird and Charlie Saufley come up with “Protection Hex”, probably the strongest track here, the piano theme and Baird’s subdued vocals coming up with something that is both angelic and sinister at the same time.

From there on, things start to get more complex, or to be more precise, more complicated. Japanese guitarist Tasha Dorji is a known experimentalist, sounding like a cross between Derek Bailey and Arto Lindsay, but still like something that is not a burden to the ears. The inclusion of Richard Youngs and his “Abandoned Problems”, with Youngs’ fuzzed guitar, off-kilter vocals and female background vocals shouting “hey”, are probably something you would expect on a collection of speculative music.

But then comes the trio of Stephen O’Malley, Tim Wyskida and Marc Urselli with their “Solastalgia”, which personally sounds like a Cola Lite version of Earth and their heavy drones. Not too earth-shattering, so to say, the nuances that are to be there are hard to detect, and the whole thing is a bit too long for my taste. Abovementioned Phil Legard concludes the proceedings with a very classically tinged organ piece “Zoa Pastorale”, which is quite a fine concluding piece, but could be an acquired taste for some listeners.

All in all, a mixed experience with predominantly exquisite or interesting material, and it will be interesting to see if the whole concept Chasny came up with develops further.

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