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Secret Chiefs 3 - Book M CD (album) cover

BOOK M

Secret Chiefs 3

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.42 | 88 ratings

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TCat
5 stars Secret Chiefs 3 started out as a project from "Mr. Bungle" members Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn, and Danny Heifetz. However, this doesn't mean that the music sounds like Mr. Bungle without Mike Patton. This music is a completely different animal, even though it is still very different from most everything else. Since the beginning, several other artists have been in or worked with the band, and now it has become more of a collaboration between artists with Spruance being the one constant member. The band has also explored so many different styles and genres, often within the same album. So, pretty much every recording by the band has been a surprise. It has also been revealed that the band is actually comprised of 7 other satellite bands, some of whom have recorded albums on their own.

This particular album utilizes the combination of traditional western instruments along with Turkish, Persian, and Arabic instruments and other stringed instruments and percussion instruments. Plus you get these sounds provided in traditional and non-traditional settings resulting in some very interesting combinations that not only include ethnic flavors, but completely brand new otherworldly styles. All of this is also instrumental.

"Book M" which is SC3's third full length studio album is mostly centered on the above mentioned styles of music, but there are some interesting combinations made here. The album is broken up into 3 sections, the first called "Observance of the World" taking up 3 tracks. After the mostly traditional sounding "Knights of Damcar", we get a sudden shift to a percussion heavy "Hagia Sophia" utilizing electronic beats and traditional percussion with a heavy string-like melody peppered with heavy guitars. "Vajra" takes a traditional melody and surrounds it with a tricky progressive drum pattern and increase the intensity with guitar power chords and many other amazing textures. What an awesome sound! "Ship of Fools (Stone of Exile)" utilizes a 3 / 4 pattern and slips in extra beats here and there to keep you disoriented while a quirky melody plays.

Section 2 is "Engagement of the Sword" taking up the next 5 tracks. "Horsemen of the Invisible" has a traditional dance melody playing with traditional instruments, heavy percussion, heavy guitars and electronics all mixed together in a foot- stomping, swirling track. Without missing a beat, they take organic instruments playing the melody and suddenly switch it to an electronic bass. "Combat for the Angel" has an amazing violin lead throughout the track and uses a hard, plodding drum pattern while the violin performs musical calescentics until the pattern breaks up and things get experimental. This flows into "Zulfigar III" which has a deeper and darker feel with rumbling guitars and electronic percussion taking the lead while strings play around. "Siege Perilous" starts out as a more gypsy-baroque sounding track in a mid-eastern gigue mixing some more classical and traditional styles with a start/stop melody. Some interesting experimentation goes on between the instrumental verses. "Dolorous Stroke" takes the complete opposite approach here with a fast paced drumming pattern and a very heavy surf-punk feel with a giant wall of shifting noise drones.

Section 3 takes up the last 4 tracks and is called "Ritual of the Cup". In "Blaze of the Grail (Main Theme)" a sitar style instrument plays an arpeggio chord while a funky guitar effect plays and suddenly changes to a high school marching band and then to a jazz orchestra and then throw in a crazy violin and add some tubas and you get the idea. Well actually you don't, that's why you have to hear this. "Lapsit Exillis" is a short track mixing traditional and rock instruments. "Lapis Baitulous" utilizes more electronic disco sounds with the mid-Eastern feel and various sundry items including the kitchen sink. This album ends with "Safina". Starting with expansive synth chords, an unexpected funky electronic bass line comes along and percussion drops in at 1 minute. Brass carries the melody as the funky beat continues as a jazz/funk fusion plays. The music fades just after 5 minutes. After 7 and a half minutes, a very loud, distorted and cinematic ending wraps it all up.

This album is an amazing melting pot of awesomeness. This is the music I love to hear, where styles are mixed to create new things, and even though you have an underlying style going on here, so many boundaries are stretched and genres are combined to make everything unpredictable, but undeniably catchy and listenable. How could you not listen to this and just love it? Even those not necessarily attracted to the middle Eastern vibe here will love this because it is so versatile. I highly suggest listening to this just so you can really experience it, because the things I say to try to describe these tracks don't come close to what you really hear. This is essential because it is so groundbreaking and unique.

TCat | 5/5 |

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