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Go to the Secret Chiefs 3 website  Secret Chiefs 3 - Book Of Horizons [Mimicry - 2004]

The entire '3 part meta-album' Book Of Truth, according to initial announcements, should actually be finished by now but after some delays finally the first part is here! Book Of Horizons shows a new approach for Secret Chiefs 3 that's never been a 'band' in the traditional sense but now mastermind Trey took it to a new level: the Chiefs are a '7 part meta-band' now.

Although none of the seven bands seem to have fixed line-ups the 6 present in this book range from the Persian Ishraqiyun to the brutal death metal band The Holy Vehm, these two bands being the easiest to recognize as well as it's not always that clear which band plays what. But yes, the music is very diverse, moreso than on the previous SC3 album Book M which showed a more songbased and stylistically coherent approach. Now we find more of the abstract electro-acoustics that are remeniscent of The First Grand Constitution Of Bylaws although much improved. These pieces are performed by The Electromagnetic Azoth and like the alchemistic Azoth this band can take forms of the other bands/elements. The Traditionalists represent a cinematic side with beautiful tracks such as the romantic The Exile and a tune that reminds of Goblin's 'giallo' music called The Owl Of Daylight (which seems to be built on a note sequence from Assassin's Blade from the first album). The band UR performs the spaghetti Western tune Exodus (its surf arrangement was already part of the liveset for a while, but here it returns with lush orchestration and it's a guaranteed hum-along). I can't really connect it to the other UR track Anthropomorphosis: Boxleitner, which is more in the vein of White As They Come.

Already apparent on Book M, Trey Spruance takes his Persian music as serious as his philosophy. In The 3 (The Afghan Song) and The Four (The Great Ishraqi Sun) his saz no longer sounds 'fake' as he still stated on his second album but every album he sounds more confident and more... errr... Persian. The Ishraqiyun arrangements aren't entirely traditional but the melodies have all the microtonality and ornamentation to make it sound 'real'. Just like the death metal sounds as vile and abrasive as it should. The Holy Vehm features John Merriman of Cephalic Carnage on drums and if you know Faxed Head you might know Trey's ideas on extreme metal production. They might not be conventional but they are very effective. Not afraid of chaos, but still with ear for detail and overall a very dark atmosphere and seemingly random soundeffects to prevent it from becoming comfortably predictable. One of the oldest bands FORMS opens the album with the romantic The End Times and closes it with the burlesque Welcome To The Theatron Animatronique.

You might have gotten the picture: Book Of Horizons is quite a trip. We're taken from the Wild West to the Middle East with moments of celestial beauty as well as purgatorial mayhem. One moment your listening to fragments and abstract soundscapes. next you get a tune that get stuck in your inner ear for days. On top of that all brought forth in the amazing production we might be used to by now but still no less impressed. As usual there's a lot of mysticism and symbolism to be found in the music and the great artwork to top it off and to make the album more than 'just' a listening experience (and, sound aside, remind you why downloading is a pale shadow of the real thing). This surely is Secret Chiefs 3's most accomplished and advanced release to date and I don't see anything on the horizon that can knock this one off the #1 spot of my yearlist and with releases like this you don't really need another Mr. Bungle album, do you?

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

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