Shackleton & Six Organs of Admittance – Jinxed by Being

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Shackleton and Six Organs of Admittance Jinxed by Being review

If you end up doing any research on Ben Chasny’s quarter-century of work as Six Organs of Admittance, you’ll come across the term “space folk” as a descriptor for it more than a few times. Weirdly enough, the converse is a lot less apparent, as the space folk canon out there seems to comprise much less recognizable names. Overall, it’s folk traditionalism fleshed out with prudent additions of weird instrumentation and production to sound aloof, often brooding and lo-fi. Chasny’s deep acoustic guitar compositions have felt like mostly positive and soothing psychedelia, with only his earliest releases and occasional tracks since then suggesting a dark side to his force.

This makes Six Organs of Admittance’s new collaborative release Jinxed by Being an altogether different animal. Chasny works here with British producer Sam Shackleton, whose moody electronica has long played give-and-take with IDM, reggae, and dubstep. Despite the recording being delayed by release schedules and production issues, the results on Jinxed by Being luck out and follow logically from the hints of ambience and processed noise found on 6OA’s April 2024 LP Time is Glass. These seven expansive cuts (lasting more than an hour!) don’t quite sound like either act, yet they fit squarely into the puzzle of each. 

Moments like “Electrical Storm” make it hard to tell where Shackleton ends and Six Organs of Admittance begins, the latter giving the former a kind of pastoral, organic texture that’s been rare in his discography. Even if Shackleton really did drive the sonic conversation here and throughout, on “Electrical Storm” it sounds like Chasny led it. His guitar—plucks, strums, arpeggios—glides above terrain rough with hammered percussion, plaintive unison vocals, and overdubbed electric guitar. Arrangements like this feel familiar across the 6OA universe, and ground this album for longtime listeners. Yet on the Six Organs of Admittance website, Chasny revealed that Shackleton did the heavy lifting on this album’s atmosphere, taking Jinxed by Being to the kind of places in space (thematic and psychological) that Chasny couldn’t.

Shackleton subjects Chesny’s voice to a lot of manipulation, strategically centering it as he would an instrument or sample patch. Throughout Jinxed by Being it’s multiplied and layered, distorted to a staticky whisper, moved forward and backward in the mix from track to track. Shackleton also plays fast and loose with Six Organs of Admittance’s signature guitars, processing them to sound decidedly un-guitar-like or simply eliminating them altogether. “The Sign of the Dove” includes all of these techniques at once, 11 minutes of wandering between This Mortal Coil’s dreamy freak-folk precursors and the recent zeitgeist of Einstürzende Neubauten.

It’s relatively new ground for Shackleton to cover, forced out of continuous grooves and high-BPM energy. But the results have the kind of gestalt seamlessness that should be the goal of musical partnerships like this. Based on prior history, it’s natural to have some preemptive concern over just how a project featuring less-than-shiny happy people might sound. Some of y’all might get off on that; hell, I’ve gotten off on it myself. Certainly brighter than funereal, but maybe a little darker than the far side of the moon, Jinxed by Being in sum is oddly calming in the manner of ancient prayers and meditative drones.

Label: Drag City

Year: 2024

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Shackleton and Six Organs of Admittance Jinxed by Being review

Shackleton & Six Organs of Admittance : Jinxed by Being

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