All “accusations of artistic fascism, philosophical heavy-handedness, obscurantism, and anti-modernity” should be directed solely at composer-multi-instrumentalist Trey Spruance, according to a caveat included in the fifth, and best, Secret Chiefs 3 album. But we come to praise the former (?) Mr. Bungle member, not accuse him. Cast the clear light of alchemical truth through the graphically enhanced occult fog, and you’ll find an album fluffed full of magick, mystery, and densely orchestrated mosque-rocking beats.
Book of Horizons is the first volume of a planned trilogy, over the course of which the collective Chiefs will splinter into seven discrete ensembles of confoundingly unstable lineups (percussionist William Winant and string player Eyvind Kang are featured among a cast of dozens). So where the group Ur perform “Book T: Exodus,” Spruance’s swelling surf-rock rewrite of the Ernest Gold anthem, the Electromagnetic Azoth deliver “On the Wings of the Haoma,” an extremely trippy shortwave-pop collage of cheesy keyboards and blaring Hindi film guitars. The chthonic death-metal metaphysics of the Holy Vehm (“Hypostasis of the Archons”) feels eerily at home beside Ishraqiyun’s traditional Afghan melody (“The 3”) on an album of unabashedly irony-free uneasy listening suitable for nearly any gnostic’s swinging bachelor pad.