Ben Chasny is the thinking man's shredder, a chin-stroking, Gaston Bachelard-quoting antithesis to philistine six-string savants like Steve Vai. The lone mainstay in the ever-evolving Six Organs of Admittance, Chasny believes that what's on a guitarist's bookshelf is nearly as crucial as his choice of gear. New release Ascent is stuffed with psychedelic guitar virtuosity, moments where Chasny leaves this plane and enters one of those transcendental, mind-freaked, head-tipped-back, eyelid-fluttering states that few are capable of. "Close to the Sky" is a seven-minute opus that finds Chasny summoning the spirits of Japanese space-rock pioneers Fushitsusha, the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat, and Spacemen 3. The nimbly anarchic solos in "Waswasa" got me wondering if the California songwriter was trying to convey the notion that the more control we exert over our lives, the easier it is to descend into utter chaos. Or maybe he just wanted to create the ideal soundtrack to grainy footage of mushroom clouds. Ascent only wilts when Chasny takes the decelerated acoustic route, as on the sloshy, sentimental "Your Ghost." I prefer it when our guitar heroes flaunt their muscles.