VALIS. The vast, active living-intelligence system which Phillip K Dick claimed telepathically downloaded a massive store of occult information directly into his brain via a beam of pink light. The novel of the same name, in which Dick attempted to make sense of this experience via somewhat autobiographical fiction, is as paranoid and creative as any of his earlier work. It is also labyrinthine, disorientating, and possessed of a sense of deep purpose.
The album of the same name by San Francisco one-man black-metal project Mastery possesses all of those qualities, as well. The epic 17-minute opener, “V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L.,” is a huge statement unto itself. The two other longer songs and the two shorter, more experimental/noise pieces that round the album out are almost just icing on the cake. Cold, black icing spread on a cake of corroded iron with a cursed ceremonial blade.
The feel of these tunes is chaotic and intense, ready to fly apart at any moment, yet remaining miraculously stitched together by sole member Ephemeral Domignostika. It is dissonant and noisy, absolutely not concerned with melody and nasty as fuck. There’s a lot of great USBM coming from the West Coast these days, and with a statement as confident as VALIS, it’s time to add Mastery to the short list for best-of-the-best.
VALIS is available now from The Flenser.