Free and legal MP3: Six Organs of Admittance (meditative acoustic guitar prayer)

Over a gentle, deliberately descending lick, Ben Chasny floats his tremulous voice, interwoven with some elusive electronics.

Ben Chasny

“Hold But Let Go” – Six Organs of Admittance

Meditative acoustic guitar prayer, of sorts. Over a gentle, deliberately descending lick, Ben Chasny floats his tremulous voice, interwoven with some elusive electronics. The guitar, moving neither too fast nor too slow, has a palpable presence in the song; given the echoey vocal effects, the other subtle sounds in the mix, and sparse lyrics that are mere clouds of suggestion, the guitar feels like the only solid object on display—the guitar, and Chasny’s fingers as they ply the strings, which are all but visible as the string work continues.

Hands become central to the experience. The paradoxical-seeming choral directive is “Hold but let go.” Hands in prayer position come to mind. “Hold but let go” is mostly all Chasny has to say here beyond what his hands are saying, hands which hold the guitar and let go of the music latent within it. There is more to the song than the notes he plays, than the words he sings; there is a power that accrues through the deliberate repetition, the attentive playing, the life-affirming nature of the central message. We can all benefit from this, from holding but letting go.

Chasny has been recording as Six Organs of Admittance since 1998. He is based in Northern California. “Hold But Let Go” is a song from the album Asleep on the Floodplain, coming out next week on Drag City Records. MP3 via Drag City. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the head’s up.

Free and legal MP3: Secondstar (meditative, wistful, harmony-laced)

“Tied to the Mast” – Secondstar

Meditative, wistful, harmony-laced, and lacking any introduction whatsoever, “Tied to the Mast” (sea theme continues, inadvertently) envelops us instantly in its welcoming vocal layers. While reminiscent, clearly, of the sorts of harmonizing that Fleet Foxes abruptly brought back to rock’n’roll last year, what you’ll hear here has a smaller-scale and less architected feeling. Liam Carey, the Brooklyn-based driving force behind Secondstar, uses an accumulation of fragile vocal tracks to create something decidedly unfragile, anchoring it all on a simple acoustic rhythm guitar and some oceanic percussion, nicely evocative of the “ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea,” to quote a landmark poem that comes to mind as I’m listening to this. The guitar, by the way, may be uncomplicated but the chords are so hospitable, the sound so warm and plush that I am newly reminded that complication isn’t everything.

“Tied to the Mast” is one of five songs on Secondstar’s Teeth EP, self-released this summer. A follow-up EP is due some time this fall, says Carey. Note that the link is via Bandcamp, and is not direct. Follow instructions from the link above and you’ll have the MP3 in no time.