Last week the Brooklyn venue Baby’s All Right was visited by Rangda, a band consisting of two of the world’s greatest guitarists Sir Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny, along with percussion master Chris Corsano. Together, the trio ran though a set of psychedelic-tinged rock music, exploring the instrumental dynamics that come with a group of such notable musicians. The audience, filled with music-heads and know-it-alls stood deeply transfixed as the guitarists traded structures and leads with Corsano maintaining and controlling the inertia. The gig was a warm-up to a recording session for the group’s third album which will be released on the illustrious Drag City label, also home to member’s solo recordings as well. While audiences wait with bated breath for new Rangda material, two new releases from Bishop and Chasny are ready to be unleashed next month with wildly divergent approaches.
Sir Richard Bishop is a guitarist largely known for his work in the Sun City Girls, the 20th Century America’s most mysterious and vexing underground unit. In a solo capacity, Bishop’s playing can go anywhere from hypnotic ragas to elegant ballads, able to conjure the tour de force fireworks of Django Reinhardt and summon the melodies of The Beatles in his live sets. One never knows what exactly to expect from a Bishop album as his capabilities on the guitar are near limitless. His latest record, The Tangier Sessions, was inspired the acquisition of a new parlor guitar he found in a pawnshop that produced a sound that he couldn’t get out of his head. The Tangier Sessions are among the most gorgeous recordings he’s made to date. With nothing but an unaccompanied acoustic guitar tracks like “Frontier” feature a lovely closeness, as if Bishop is playing for an audience of only the listener. “Safe House” features a more rhythmic, upbeat approach while maintaining the intimacy. Rather than a giant swell of notes and clusters, Bishop proves that even with a gentler touch, the results are just as rewarding.
Chasny, takes a decidedly different approach on Hexadic, the new album from his longstanding Six Organs of Admittance project. After spending much of the last decade on a series of acoustic based lp’s Six Organs of Admittance was widely regarded among the best of a new generation of psychedelic inspired folk musicians. Any notions of folk music are dispelled on Hexadic, a boldly experimental take on a systems based improvisational electric rock album. Using a series of predetermined rules Chasny, at times playing the loudest, most distorted guitar in his catalog, inverts conventional song structures and riffs on tracks like Chrome-fused “Wax Chance”. Backed by Comets On Fire’s Noel Van Harmonsen and Badgerlore’s Rob Fisk on the rhythm section, Chasny’s guitar playing here is explosive and wild, tearing through leads with an abandon rarely heard outside the PSF Records catalog. At times unexpected, Hexadic resonates with a unique glow, a sound that’s fascinatingly heavy and rewarding as any experimental rock record you may come across the last few years.
Both Six Organs Of Admittance’s Hexadic and Sir Richard Bishop’s The Tangier Sessions are available February 17th from Drag City.