The Book of Life: Chester Watson’s Psychedelic Horror

The first single and video from A Japanese Horror Film, dropping Halloween.
By    October 22, 2020

This is how the story goes: seven years ago, a 16-year old tweeted “you won’t regret this” at me, along with a link to a video for a song called “Phantom.” I was ruthlessly stoned and thought it was one of the best debuts that I’d ever seen; so much that I had to turn to the person next to me to ask whether or not it was my own narcotic delusions. Maybe I was just really fucking high. I was, but I was not.

Several million views later, it’s evident that “Phantom” was a phenomenon. It heralded the arrival of a genius, a baby-faced phantom chasing the elusive specter of greatness. A skate kid rapping about scarabs and sepulchers, a preternatural oracle still too young to shave, a sage staying up late to write his own book of the dead. One that would sound much more alive than anything scrawled in papyrus.

For the last five years, I have waited on “The Album.” POW Recordings began because of Chester Watson, because it was obvious to me that he was “the best villain since Mad V;” but it was something more. There are those artists that appear out of nowhere, popping out of Zeus’ forehead like Athena. There are others who use the shoulders of their idols as a stepladder to reach empyrean heights. In Chester, I see both. A singular artist of his time, but one with a careful reverence for the older gods.

The Album, A Japanese Horror Film, drops a week from Saturday on Halloween. It reminds me of a deconstructed Liquid Swords, run through anime instead of the Shaw Brothers, the crumbling red clay of the southeast rather than the red bricks and samurai feuds of East New York. It is one of those records that has built its own world and inhabits its own dimension. There are guest spots from Psymun and Dua, Kent Loon and Max Wonders. The legendary Zeroh mastered it. But it bears neither seams nor scratches. It’s a weird gilded scroll, a haunted cryptogram, the hero’s journey filtered through hazy dreams of astral projection and witch hunting. The dharma of a ninja mystic.

Directed By Karley Abé & Adrian Petrosian, “Life Wrote Itself” is the first single. Some samurai stealth shit. The teenager figuring out how to moonwalk became a master. The prodigy becoming the sensei. It is psychedelically original, but eternal in its ancestral familiarity. A dream becoming realized. The film finally perfected and beamed into the back of your mind’s eye.

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