As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Six Organs of Admittance.
The loss of Ben Chasny from Seattle (however temporary his stay) is a hole that will be hard to fill. Chasny’s presence in town lent itself to a lot of fantastic shows, not to mention the live debuts of 200 Years (his project with Elisa Ambrogio) and Rangda (featuring Sir Richard Bishop and Chris Corsano). It was a time for Seattle to openly reflect on the talent of Chasny, a performer who commanded attention in a crowded music landscape.
It’s with this longing gaze with which we greet Maria Kapel. Released via Chasny’s relaunched Pavilion imprint, the album finds Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance free from the band influence he’s lent it on recent albums. Maria Kapel is nothing more than a man with a guitar, playing homage to his countless influences with a restrained flair that has long been his mark. On record, Chasny is able to reign in any dalliances with excess and Maria Kapel is no different. Notes flow from turntable to speaker, floating to gently meet your ears.
Maria Kapel is an album for dreamers. Chasny’s fingerpicking creating phrases that produce sunshine when it’s gray; warmth when it’s cold. In this barebones setting, one is privy to the skill of Chasny and the pride of ownership his lengthy catalog continues to display. His fingers are still nimble and his mind still sharp, ideas pouring from both in easy synchronicity.
Considering Maria Kapel another feather in Chasny’s cap and another reason to be sad that Seattle is missing him when the city would appreciate him most.