Published Nov 30, 2012"I had brought my acoustic guitar to play a set, but it would have been two acoustic sets on the same night. Then I met these guys in the park, playing Hawkwind songs on bass and bongos" — this is how Ben Chasny introduced his partners in crime (members of fellow Drag City acts Major Stars and Magik Markers) after ripping through a few opaque instrumental numbers that sounded as if a snowstorm had a pitch and a back beat.
Unlike many guitarists who try to maximize returns from their Electro-Harmonix gear in order to cover their own skill limits, Chasny is by far one of the most prolific and intelligent guitarists of the whole damned independent rock spectrum. Spectrum? Yes, a very wide one. Probably 270 degrees of music fans crammed in the tiny Casa Del Popolo to see Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance: mustachioed Current 93 buffs, bike couriers, all-around who's-that-guy-again, stoners, woolly indie snoozers, and an odd couple making out all night long near the merch tables.
Although Chasny's ability to tweak non-occidental scales and rhythmic patterns is more central in his acoustic solo sets, the choice to tour with a full band, following the release of his latest opus, Ascent, was a deciding factor in giving some kicks to a night that had the potential for being as edgy as a Melba toast.
Be it as it may, when it comes to virtuosity, the beauty of Chasny's playing as part of a full band — aside from the fact that he's a finger picker — resides in his ability to get his ego out of the way and let it all blend in with what the other human beings on stage are playing. And that still holds true even when it gets really catchy and sounds like a dissonant version of Neil Young & Crazy Horse when they were rocking the sleeveless shirts and Nike Pumps.