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Secret Chiefs 3 - First Grand Constitution And Bylaws CD (album) cover


Secret Chiefs 3



3.88 | 42 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
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.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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