Wasted potential abounds
Albums and the songs that comprise them are a series of parts. It’s a puzzle looking to be put together. More often than not, albums fall apart because the pieces were either never going to work together, or they simply aren’t good. In rare instances an album has all the right pieces, but those pieces fail to coalesce into a satisfying whole. The latest record by Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises, is undoubtedly part of the latter camp, cementing itself as the most frustrating project of the year to date.
The album kicks off with a decent amount of promise. “Pacific” is a strange, wobbling synth that strikes straight to your spine. It cuts into the deep, primal part of your brain and either massages it to ecstasy or activates your sense of fear. Follow up track “Two Forms Moving” is where the album shows its true colors. The track itself is decent, but it comes off like a B-side from a release by the Books, which is the lingering feeling the whole album imparts upon you. Nothing ever comes all the way together even though we know the elements can work together. Both “Two Forms Moving” and “The Scout is Here” utilize glitchy elements and bursts of guitar feedback over twangy acoustic guitar. The resulting sound should have been interesting but feels poorly thought out and haphazardly assembled.
The latter half of the record does even less to assuage these frustrations. “The 101” has some exciting moments, but they are washed over by an unyielding wave of repetition. Every unique idea is drowned in this dull tsunami, leaving us with “Haunted and Known,” the dullest track on the record. It feels as though it were intended to be a drone track but there was never a texture that they were able to land on that evoked any emotion or excitement so they just kept adding layers and letting them ride. At least in other songs, you could get lost in the guitar work, but this track provides nothing exciting and leaves you tired and bored by the end of it. Closing track “Worn Down to the Light” does much the same but it does manage to find a satisfying feedback groove to nestle in, and the frisson is worth the lack of excitement.
Companion Rises is one of the most frustrating pieces of music this year. It opens with a statement of great promise and is preceded by an excellent album from the same band, but this record wastes all that goodwill in mere moments. Given that the band has released such promising records this album comes as a complete shocker. Where is the eerie, the unexpected, the riveting? Albums like Ascent and Hexadic pushed boundaries with their strange and layered guitar work. Companion Rises is trying to recapture that same magic, but its inability to commit to an idea and push it to the boundaries weighs heavily on its quality. Hopefully, this album is a blip on the radar or a warm-up for something greater, Six Organs of Admittance is certainly capable of better.