The brainchild of Ben Chasny, a Bay Area-based guitar whiz who also plays in the celebrated psych-metal outfit Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance dedicates the second half of The Sun Awakens to a single 23-minute track called "River of Transfiguration" that sounds like a one-armed hobbit practicing snare-drum rolls inside a wind tunnel while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tries to sneak up behind him. If you're looking for signs of freak-folk life, they rarely get more explicit than this.
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Or more tedious. But if "River of Transfiguration" could tax even a lifelong pothead's attention span, the rest of The Sun Awakens delivers more consumable pleasures, such as opener "Torn by Wolves," whose title slyly misrepresents a delicately fingerpicked electric-guitar meditation, and "Black Wall," where Chasny channels ye olde English mysticism of Fairport Convention for kids who think Richard Thompson heads up the Department of Health and Human Services. In "The Desert Is a Circle," the album's loveliest cut, the guitarist constructs a one-man spaghetti-Western groove out of a handful of interlocking riffs, then somehow turns his instrument into a flute. The handiwork of the hobbit?