A multi-level method for the solution of sparse linear systems is introduced. The method is defined in terms of the coefficient matrix alone; no underlying PDE or mesh are assumed. An upper bound for the condition number is available for a class of SPD problems. In particular, for certain discretizations of diffusion boundary value problems this bound grows only polynomially with the number of levels used, no matter whether or not the discontinuities in the diffusion coefficient align with the coarse grids. Numerical results in line with the analysis are presented for a diffusion problem with discontinuous coefficients.