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Secret Chiefs 3 - Book Of Horizons CD (album) cover

BOOK OF HORIZONS

Secret Chiefs 3

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.09 | 83 ratings

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TCat
5 stars "Book of Horizons" is Secret Chiefs 3's fourth album. After the amazing "Book M", it was brought to light that SC3 actually consisted of 7 satellite bands. This fact came to light on this album as each of these tracks have the name of the satellite band responsible for the track. Out of the 7, there is only one that isn't represented in this album, and that is "NT Fan". The other 6 represented on this album are "Forms", "Ishraqiyun", "Traditionalists", "Holy Vehm", "The Electromagnetic Azoth", and "UR".

The SC3 has been known to experiment and mix various musical genres, expanding them into new sounds and styles. They use traditional instruments that are unique to the culture and traditional rock instruments and electronica. This results in some very interesting and enjoyable music that is unique, yet familiar. Trey Spruance, who is the leader of this collection of bands, was previously with "Mr. Bungle", and he created SC3 with the help of 2 other members from that band. The common mistake people make when trying to define this band is that it is "Mr. Bungle" without Mike Patton, but that is not a correct definition of this music. SC3 is a completely different band from Mr. Bungle.

The album starts with "The End Times" (Forms). This is a peaceful and pensive track utilizing guitars, electric piano and some strange warbly instrument that almost sounds like a bowed saw. Percussion starts later with an interesting array of traditional instruments that I can't identify, because there are so many at use, but it has a slightly European vibe to it and it is quite beautiful and unique. There is a use of modals mixed in there that is amazing. "The 4 (The Great Ishraqi Sun)" (Ishraqiyun) has a more mid-Eastern dance vibe utilizing strings along with rabab, baglama, esraj, some micro-tuned guitars and other instruments I've never heard of along with guitars and drums. "The Indistructable Drop" (Traditionalists) is experimental and eerie using gongs, harp and organ. It's also quite short yet nice.

"Exterminating Angel" (Holy Vehm) starts out with some wild drums and a drone. After this, some crazy screaming vocals come in and then it continues with a wall of noise. Growling vocals start later, as the intensity level of this one is right off the chart on this death metal rant. "The Owl in Daylight" (Forms) uses glockenspiel, chimes, bells to create a track that starts out dark and quickly lightens up to an almost lounge jazz track with some crazy quick texture changes throughout. This track is inspired by the unfinished Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name which was being written when he passed away. With all the bells and chimes mixed later with heavy metal guitar, it sounds like a Christmas song put through the mixer from Hell. "The Exile" (Traditionalists) is almost the complete opposite from the last two track as it is a lush and beautiful melody created by strings, acoustic guitar, and so on. It sounds very cinematic, with a very western flavor at times, yet becoming very expansive.

"On the Wings of the Haoma" (The Electromagnetic Azoth) starts with some traditional percussion and electronics. But then it shifts and changes so quickly it is hard to pin it all down. The overall feel is Persian, but it is a perfect example of mixing traditional instruments with electronica and avant-prog. The middle part of it is quite experimental and ambient but by the end, it turns into surf rock. "Book T: Exodus" (UR) is based off of the movie theme from "Exodus" by Ernest Gold, but rescored for orchestra and surf band. Yep, it is, and it's amazing! ! ! ! "Hypostasis of the Archons" (Holy Vehm) is more of the death metal styling, but with a craziness that is completely unpredictable. It is scary with screams, growing and raspy vocals featuring 3 vocalists. There are some wild guitars as you would expect from this music, and constantly changing meters. Totally chaotic. "The Electrotheonic Grail Dove" (Traditionalists) is a very short track that sound like someone dropped a bowlful of musical notes on the floor.

"The 3 (Afghan Song)" (Ishraqiyan) is based on a traditional song. It uses traditional instruments again like the sitar, dohl, and so on along with synthesizers, bass and drums. "DJ Revisionist" (The Electromagnetic Azoth) also uses traditional instruments with rock instruments and electronics. Again, you get that Persian sound mixed with various rock styles that run from surf rock to avant garde and somehow it all makes sense. "Anthropomorphosis: Boxlietner" (UR) starts out with droning sounds from strings and percussion but quickly switches to an almost poppy sound with electronic instruments and a sudden influx of loud guitars and orchestral effects. This is another ever changing landscape of amazing-ness that has to be heard to be believed. "Welcome to the Theatron Animatronique" (Forms) starts with electric keys playing a middle Eastern sounding melody with other orchestral effects and textures, chimes, harp and all of that. The simple melody breaks down at parts and things get somewhat complex, but it always returns to variations of the melody played by differing lead instruments and becomes expansive and cinematic and features traditional vocals at the end.

Just like "Book M" , this album is simply amazing, but this time, since it is played by the different formations of the band, there is quite an amazing variety unlike anything I have heard lately. And every one of the tracks are so well done, nothing sounds amateurish as you might expect from a band creating so many differing styles. Where most of Book M was devoted to Persian and Afghan undertones, this album goes everywhere. Amazingly enough, there is not the feeling of disjointedness that you would expect, probably because every track is so well done. This album exceeds even the excellent Book M, which was also a 5 star affair, and you wonder how can this be even better than that? Well, you better start listening to these albums to find out.

TCat | 5/5 |

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