A few weeks ago we announced a new Six Organs of Admittance record, Hexadic, to be released Feb 17th, 2015 on Drag City. This release is the result of years of working on a new way to compose music. We’ve been using the word “system,” but it would probably be more accurate to describe it as an “open system.” It is very malleable. The particular songs on this record were bent toward the idea of rock music. I composed 30 pieces using this system. Of those 30 songs, I chose 9 that could best be worked into a rock format for Hexadic. I wanted to make a rock record. So there you have it.
As I talked with Drag City about how the record was created, they encouraged me to take my notebooks and systematize them into book form so that others might be able to use the same methods for themselves. That has been keeping me busy the last four months or so.
page 47 of notebook
The system itself consists of different aspects, or correspondences, that can interact with each other or exist on their own. There are game, graphic, and language aspects that intersect with the plane of tonal relationships in a way that creates a unique assemblage. In fact, all of the words on the record were written using the language aspect of the system. The game aspects of the system can be played for fun or used as a compositional method. They can even be used as a performance in itself if the players are confident enough.
The work draws inspiration and uses ideas from three figures: Ramon Llull, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and Gaston Bachelard.
Because the system uses a deck of playing cards as the ur-ground that most of the aspects of the system are born from, we (Drag City and I) will also be making a special Six Organs deck of playing cards. These cards will be a regular deck of poker cards that can be used in any way a deck would normally be used (since the system doesn’t need any special deck). However, the Six Organs deck will have markings on specific cards that are used for specific aspects of the system. For instance, the spades will have a +/- sign designating them as cards used in alternate tunings or as “intensity” signifiers for tonal fields. There will also be markings on the cards that are used for a special figure that is used for composition. In addition, the face cards will also have symbolic representations of figures who populate the Six Organs universe. I worked closely with Steve Quenell, the artist behind many Six Organs record covers (School Of The Flower, RTZ, Sun Awakens, to name a few), to create the deck. Here is the raw art for Stéphane Mallarmé, who is the King of Spades:
In this card we can see the die and the ship, directly referencing Mallarmé. The outer form delineates the spade. The lighter blue of the background represents air, which is the element of the spade (spades = swords = air). The curled cross bars form a mustache, representative (along with antlers) of the kings (whether or not the real figure had a mustache or antlers) in the deck. The moth is the symbol (death) that is shared with this card’s partner in the Hexadic System, namely, the Queen of Clubs (Leonora Carrington in this deck), which has the same moth.
So this is the total project.
The record has Noel Von Harmonson (Comets, Sic Alps, Heron Oblivion) on drums, Rob Fisk (Common Eider, King Eider, Badgerlore, ex-Deerhoof) on bass and Charlie Saufley (Assemble Head in the Sunburst Sound, Meg Baird, Heron Oblivion) on bass. They made the record so much more than I thought it could be and I owe them big time.
Anyway, very excited to get all of this out there and tour as well. I will be putting the tour dates up on this website ASAP. In the meantime you can check the Drag City tour page. We will announce an exciting support musician for all the US shows soon.