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Secret Chiefs 3


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Secret Chiefs 3 First Grand Constitution And Bylaws album cover
3.88 | 42 ratings | 5 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ana'l Haqq (0:22)
2. Adept Chamber Of The Magian Tavern ? Altar To The Master Chief (1:11)
3. Inn Of 3 Doors (1:22)
4. Breeze Of Dawn, Death's Angel (2:19)
5. Assassin's Blade (4:37)
6. Bare-faced Bazi (2:05)
7. Crossroads Through Crosshairs (2:21)
8. Borderland (1:21)
9. Borderland (2:04)
10. Killing Of Kings (3:31)
11. Celestial Ship Of The Corsairs- (2:13)
- Emir Of The Bees :
12. Migration (1:18) *
13. Countersurveillance (1:10) *
14. The Mazdaean Protocols (1:37) *
15. Our Man Abu'l-Khattab (1:10) *
16. Return (0:53) *
17. Pointed And Weighty Arguments (0:19)
18. Zulkifar (1:15)
19. The Qa'im Deliberates (1:15)
20. Drunk At The Gates (2:08)
21. Resurrection Day Soundtrack: Hot Pursuit In Eagles' Nest (5:05)
22. From Night The Morning Draught Of Wine (2:28)
23. Crosswinds (0:32)
24. Borderland (2:31)
25. White As They Come (8:04)

* Bonus tracks on 2000 CD reissue

Total time 53:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Trey Spruance / guitar, organ, synth, sampler, electronics, bass (5,21), vocals (10,25), producer
- Trevor Dunn / bass, vocals (6,19,20)
- Danny Heifetz / drums, percussion, trombone

- Bar McKinnon / sax (21), bass (22)
- Kris Hendrickson / backing vocals (25)

Releases information

Artwork: Mari Kono

CD Amarillo Records ‎- ACM-603 (1996, US)
CD Web Of Mimicry ‎- WoM 003 (2000, US) Remastered with 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SECRET CHIEFS 3 First Grand Constitution And Bylaws ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SECRET CHIEFS 3 First Grand Constitution And Bylaws reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FruMp
4 stars A very eclectic album from Spruance, Heifetz and co.

SECRET CHIEFS 3 is part of the massive growing multiverse of music from the members of carnival freak band MR. BUNGLE (of whom the most notable is Mike Patton of FANTOMAS and PEEPING TOM) in this case consisting of Trey Spruance primarily on guitar and Danny Heifetz on Drums and percussion. The music here is certainly not for the faint hearted, it's quite similar to MR BUNGLE except it's a lot more sparse and has a prevailing middle-eastern theme to it - but it's still just as out there as anything bungle ever did, gallivanting from one genre to the next without a care and often without warning.

The instrumentation is quite varied on this album as you could probably deduce from the amount of instruments listed in the band member credits but it's actually quite hard to pick them out, it's quite hard to pick out anything really and so the most kudos must certainly go to the production, it's very varied due to the amazing variation in styles and genres from ethnic percussion to disco.

It's actually quite hard to pick out highlight tracks as they are so eclectic and it's hard to tell where the start and end most of the time and because they are so varied in and within themselves. The satirical 'Killing of the Kings' is great with lyrics like "Rock and roll is a thing that needs to die", 'Emir of the bees' has a lot of highlights notably the middle eastern techno that was featured in songs like 'Desert search for techno Allah', 'White as they come' is a very strong ending with some fairly psychedelic disco (what?), poking fun at the musical tastes of middle aged white people.

First Grand Constitution and Bylaws is an acquired taste and certainly not for everyone but is none the less a great album, fans of the more eclectic MR BUNGLE and FANTOMAS will certainly enjoy.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Secret Chiefs 3 were originally formed in the mid-1990s by three members of Mr. Bungle. Bassist Trevor Dunn would later leave the group. Guitarist Trey Spruance and drummer Danny Heifetz stayed. SC3 is Spruance's band first and foremost. Trey was very busy at this time, being a member of and recording/touring with Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3...all at the same time. He would leave FNM and make one more album with Bungle before concentrating solely on SC3.

This is the groups first album, and can sometimes sound similar to Bungle's Disco Volante album. Particularly the middle-eastern and electronic influences. Spruance wrote most of the music on DV, so it shouldn't be a surprise to hear a resemblance. The sound of SC3 is very diverse and includes elements of death metal, surf rock, jazz, film music, techno, Latin, Middle-Eastern, electronic and avant-garde. Like Bungle, there is a variety of different instruments used. The music is just as unpredictable and crazy as Bungle's, sometimes more so. Ideas come and go so quick, you have to listen to this several times to understand what's going on.

The latest CD versions have the track "Emir Of The Bees" stuck in the middle. I have an older CD version without that song, which I have never heard. There are three songs here all called "borderland"; they all feature the members screwing around in the studio, making noises and altering sounds. Very avant-garde and but also very filler. The album begins with "Ana'l Raqq", which is just some great 1950s/60s sounding organ. "Breeze Of Dawn, Death's Angel" begins avant death metal, then gets jazzy with atmospheric keyboards. Goes classical before ending in cacophony. "Assassin's Blade" is almost tango or something similar. Great melodies in this song. I like how the guitar and bells play in unison. Piano is the prominent instrument.

"Bare-faced Bazi" starts mellow with vibes and wind chimes before it turns into a punk song. The vocals sound like Jello Biafra. I like the oddball yelling. Later the music changes to the vocals and drums playing together, going "fa-fa-la-de-do-da". "Crossroads Through Crosshairs" has harpsichord or something similar opening. Then a bunch of random avant- noise before you hear some electronic percussion similar to Can. Then the song goes full- blown techno. Later goes into some kind of Latin jazz with good organ. "Killing Of Kings" sounds like a parody of a typical '90s 'alternative' song. At one point the music stops and you hear lighters and matches and guys yelling "fire!" Halfway almost sounds like Neil Young. I like the distortion added to the word "die" in the lyric "rock'n'roll is a thing that needs to DIE!"

"Zulkifer" is more tango-like music, but now mixed with middle-eastern music. "Resurrection Day Soundtrack: Hot Pursuit In The Eagles' Nest" opens with compressed drums at a low volume. Then louder drums play an almost funky beat and synths drone. More synth sounds. Bass comes in. After a drum fill some distorted guitar. Later a sax solo. I love the bass synth sounds in this song. "Crosswinds" is some church organ before "White As They Come" starts. This last song is industrial disco. A steady beat and synth bassline lay the foundation for some subdued guitar soloing. Distorted vocals that go back and forth in the stereo spectrum. The 'chorus' has a disco beat, some distorted guitar sounds and what sounds like female vocals. Later the bass synths do a call and response thing while still keeping the bassline. All kinds of oddball noises coming and going. A repeated guitar line plays till it gets drowned out by noisy sounds. You hear someone say "happy ending" at the end.

A great first album from these guys. In the future, their sound will get more middle-eastern and metal influenced. This will appeal to those who love Bungle in general, and Disco Volante in particular. The most noisy and avant parts here are almost pointless; they don't stand up on repeated listenings. But the actual composed parts are very good generally. Very good sound and performance. A great prog release from the 1990s. 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Trey Spruance's major project within the extended Mr Bungle family of side projects features about as diverse a range of sounds as you could ever expect to find. Later in their career, Secret Chiefs 3 would put about the idea that they were actually a collection of 7 different bands which happened to have Trey in common with completely different sounds, all putting out songs on the same album.

Well, if that's true then the different bands keep treading on each other's feet this time around, because within individual compositions you can go from alt-rock reimaginings of traditional Middle Eastern music to a film soundtrack to Zappaesque tape experiments to death metal screaming without warning. Anyone who digs Mr Bungle's Disco Volante and wonders what a mostly-instrumental take on the same concept would sound like could do a lot worse than refer to the Chiefs.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The world of Mr Bungle took the 90s by storm with a group of eclectic musicians reinventing experimental rock and metal with unthinkable fresh new paradigm shifts but in between albums they were busy with many other side projects although most of those would take place after the band broke up in 2001. Mike Patton was of course with Faith No More and Danny Heifetz moonlighted with Link Wray and Dieselhed. Trey Spruance on the other hand was the true wack job of the group with the over-the-top eccentricities of the avant-metal group Faxed Head as well as taking over the guitar spot in Faith No More for 1995's "King For A Day.. Fool For A Lifetime." After Mr Bungle's second album "Disco Volante" which came out the same year, there were no guarantees that the Bunglers would release another album and the members all went their own ways to find new projects to work on.

Before SECRET CHIEFS 3 would become Spruance's main gig, it was simply just another side project outside of the wacky world of Mr Bungle. The name SECRET CHIEFS was chosen because it referred to eclectic references to an occult spiritual hierarchy that was secretly operating the cosmos behind the scenes. Out of this moniker emerged an entire parallel universe with each album providing the soundtrack and eventually splintering off into satellite bands but on this debut album FIRST GRAND CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS, Truance joined forces with three other Bunglers, bassist Trevor Dunn, saxist Clinton Bär McKinnon and percussionist Danny Heifetz to create the most unhinged and eclectic of the SECRET CHIEFS 3 albums. The album cover art represents the Cycle of the Nychtermeron and can be seen as the gateway into the greater world of the occult displayed through symbology and titular references.

While with the second album SC3 would become Spruance's main project, at this stage he was just letting off steam and as a result this album is a wild eclectic mix of past Bungle, future Bungle, Spruance's other side project Faxed Head as well as the diverse sounds of ethnic music (predominantly Middle Eastern), surf rock and other electronica that would become the main mix of styles to come. Despite the project consisting of four Bunglers, the album still evokes an epic sound with a large number of instruments and musical styles. While SECRET CHIEFS 3 has become known mostly as an instrumental act, on FIRST GRAND CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS there are many parts with vocals only shared by Spruance and Dunn and then quite silly at that. Through the album's 20 tracks many of the SC3 sounds that would dominate future albums debut here as well as a number of weirdnesses that would never repeat themselves.

The short intro track "Ana'I Haqq" opens with the same sort of funeral organ sounds as heard on the "Disco Volante" track "Ma Meesha Mow Skwoz" which immediately brings the Bungle vibe into the forefront but instead of Mike Patton stepping in and taming the wild crew into vocal dominated bouts of stability, the album just drifts off into various often nebulous musical world. "Adept Chamber Of The Magian Tavern" prognosticates the electro-Middle Eastern fusion sounds that would define SC3 while "Inn Of 3 Doors" dishes out some expected cartoon music sounds before jumping onto the Silk Road with Indian and exotic Central Asian musical sounds. "Breeze Of Dawn, Death's Angel" dishes out some death metal bombast while "Assassin's Blade" takes the opposite approach with military drumming along with more musical mirages of the Middle East.

Throughout the album are a million catchy melodies but also are bouts of pure craziness adopted from Spruance's wild and uncategorizable band Faxed Head. Such antics are heard on "Bare-Faced Bazi" and "Killing Of Kings" which juxtapose somewhat easy listening with outbursts of insane vocal shoutings, complete musical breakdowns and sputtering insane electronic freakouts. Compared to more focused (which is saying a lot considering how eclectic all SC3 releases have been), FIRST GRAND CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS is all over the place with no clear winner in which stylistic approach dominates the album which makes this debut the more bizarre album within the greater extended Bungle universe. Highly melodic passages and utter chaotic noise often exist side by side however when melodies do pop up, more often than not are derived from Arab sources. Add heavy progressive rock elements, jazzy touches and psychedelic organ runs and album #1 by SC3 never delivers a dull moment. Not my favorite SC3 album but the wildest ride for sure and one that hits that avant-garde spot.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The band Secret Chiefs 3 came about from the unpredictable nature of the similar band Mr. Bungle. With Mike Patton involved with so many different projects, Trey Spruance, the main mind behind SC3's brilliant music, started up what was then a side project. "First Grand Constitution and Bylaws" is the first album from this interesting bunch of musicians.

As the band's first album, it is definitely varied and even a bit unfocused. You can hear bits of Mr. Bungle in the music here, but you also hear hints of the musical direction the band would take. But one thing you need to know about SC3. The band is "schizophrenic". Before this was diagnosed by the fictional doctor (of my own making) Fwedwick von Fincklehiemer der Stumpferter, all of the band's personalities were meshed together and it is very apparent on this album. That is both the album's strength and weakness. There is some great stuff here, but it is rather unfocused and flits from one style to another like a musical chameleon. You get wild and abrupt noises and sounds that can get somewhat abrasive, some jibberish and such, and some straightforward rock with is based a lot on differing ethnic styles.

Most of the tracks are quite short with durations that last from 2 - 4 minutes each. However, there are times that the band settles down and allows us to actually sink into the music, and these are in the longer tracks such as the excellent "Assassin's Blade" which opens up reminding one of "mall musak" style jazz, but slowly moves into a very nice sound as it continues on. "Emir of the Bees" is also a quirky yet great "suite" that takes the time to establish a theme element in an album that seems to have no theme. "Resurrection Day Soundtrack" is another great highlight along with album closer "White As They Come". These tracks are all separated by many shorter tracks that are a bit hit or miss, but seem to still generate interest as they go along, some more than others. The schizo personality of the band is definitely at play here.

This personality became quite apparent as the band continues along and eventually Spruance figured out that each of these personalities needed their own names, thus many different embodiments of the band have been established, and a lot of the albums and EPs begin to give these embodiments credit for their works among the band's albums. Thus, SC3's music becomes a lot more cohesive among their recordings as the history of the band continues. In fact, the album "Book of Horizons" not only features most of these different embodiments of the band, but also calls them out in the track listing. Some of these names are FORMS, UR, Traditionalists, Ishraqiyan, Noddingturd Fan (or NT Fan for short) and others. Hopefully this will explain how to find your way through Secret Chiefs 3's discography and also help the listener understand why this first album is so varied. Even so, it's still quite an enjoyable mish mash of the band's styles that, if nothing else, will make the listener want to look a bit deeper into this eccentric, quirky and schizophrenic band.

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