Secret Chiefs 3

Strong enough for a man, but made for a - Christ, who the hell knows
*special introductory paragraph!
*First Grand Constitution And Bylaws
*The Theatrum of Suprasensory Universes Vol. 1 7"
*Hurqalya (Second Grand Constitution And Bylaws)
*Eyes Of Flesh - Eyes Of Flame
*Book M
*Book Of Horizons
*The Electromagnetic Azoth: The Left Hand of Nothingness 7"
*UR: Kulturvultur 7"
*UR: Circumambulation 7"
*Xaphan: The Book Of Angels, Vol. 9
*Traditionalists: Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini
*Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1

Secret Chiefs 3 began life as Mr. Bungle without the singer, whose name I can't remember I think it was Steve something. Trey "Mr. Guitar" Spruance, Trevor "Johnny Bassman" Dunn and Danny "Lil' Danny Drums-So-Plenty" Heifetz began the band in earnest good times fun, but it quickly evolved into a multi-musicianed disease determined to piece together some of the wickedestass Middle Eastern music around, then Americanize it with guitar lines of surf/spy, spaghetti western and heavy metal persuasions, and top the capper off with the most inappropriate (and noisy!) production decisions that the Straight Man's world has ever known. They also fill their CD booklets with all this weirdo Arabic CRAP and Sufi SHIT and mysticism DIARRHEA, and I don't understand hide nor hair of it so you'll have to go to Foreigner School or some ASS like that to figure out what the HECK they're trying to prove. But Mister, if you're "all about" Eastern tunings, Secret Chiefs 3 are your man!

Now I'll warn you right now that I Don't Know Jack(TM) about the musics of the world so for all I know there are a bazillion "genuine" outfits out there on that other part of the planet that play this stuff a hundred times better. However, until those dusty old genuine groups start recruiting members of today's hottest alternative acts like Mr. Bungle and Natalie Imbruglia, they'd might as well just call it a day because there ain't nobody listenin'. Thanks for trying, musicians of Turkey, Morocco and India, but if you don't have Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel in your band, you'd might as well just shut your ass. We hear the phone ringing, but we're not pickin' up!

First Grand Constitution And Bylaws - Amarillo 1996
Rating = 7

When you were a little kid, did either of your parents ever sing you a little song that went, "Buckle up! For safety, buckle up! Buckle up! For safety, buckle up!" It wasn't much in the lyrical department but the arrangement was spectacular. At any rate, if music could cause car crashes, I would urge you to "Buckle up! For safety, buckle up!" before putting Sceret Cheese IIII's first LP on your turntable. It's a veritable smorgasbord of crazy whirligigs, all tootin' to and fro and frip-zip-zap-a-dappin' like a sheep being shoved through a maintenance saw! And that's my entire review.

Awww FUkj! Sources tell me that I made up the term "maintenance saw," so my entire review is rendered moot. At this point, I'd might as well fuggin talk about the mufuggin songs mufugger this one mufuggin song is all lak 'neeow neeow neeow' like'at and the mufugger in the back with harmonica's all like mufuggin 'bweeee bweeee' mufugg

John Cougar Mellencamp

The debut Secret Chiefs 3 CD pre-dates their obsession with Middle Eastern sounds, and focuses instead on honing in and drilling down their highly targeted key messages to a simple, easy to remember 'elevator pitch' encompassing every type of music in the world. Plus noise, if that doesn't count as music. I even counted, because I feel that's a better way of explaining to you exactly how "all over the place, like when a dog vomits" this CD is. My counting has deduced that The First Secret Bylaws And Constitutions Book One includes the following:

SIX (6) yawn-out-loud worthless abstractions of electronic noodling, dicking around with tape noise, snippets of conversation, cut-and-pasting, drum dickery, and stereoplay not unlike that which Frank Zappa was doing 26 years earlier (and reportedly John Cage even earlier than that, though as a rebel who avoids Cages like a fish avoids water, I wouldn't know one way or the other). These piles of random assfuckery are completely responsible for dragging this otherwise awesome CD's grade down to a 7, and they can all go jump up a rope for all I give a care.

FOUR (4) crazed Bungle-style pastiches of different musical genres stirred up in a blender and served up like a fine wine. And by "Bungle," I of course mean Jethro Tull's "Bungle In The Jungle," a huge influence on Secret Chiefs 3 that creeps into nearly all of their work.

FOUR (4) actual full-fledged songs, including the astonishing Arabic tango "Assassin's Blade," the amazing dark rocker "Killing Of Kings," the impossibly great sci-fi/jazz/prog concoction "Resurrection Day Soundtrack: Hot Pursuit in Eagles' Nest" and the goosebumpingly killer new wave closer "White As They Come." I have just named four of the greatest songs released in the year 1996 - if you buy only one single that year, make an illegal pressing of these four songs on a 7" disc and purchase one of them. It will blow your pants right out of your mind. Take particular note of how "Killing Of Kings" pairs the greatest dark power-chord riff since AC/DC's For Those About To Rock LP with a lyric that specifically makes fun of AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock" before arguing that "Rock and roll is something that needs to die." I mean, I love AC/DC to pieces but even I can't help but laugh uproarial when Trey lazily says, "Fire!" and then we're subjected to 15 seconds of somebody trying to light a match.

THREE (3) brief organ compositions - one Haunted House, one Arabic, one Church

God I love that George Thorogood song "One Haunted House, One Arabic, One Church." Remember that slide guitar bit? Aww don't even get me STARTED about his big lips!

TWO (2) Brian Eno-ey drone-tone mood pieces

and finally ONE (1) goofy Sun City Girls-type joke rock song

For a total of 14 neat treats to eat and 6 bags of gag to nag. There's a lot of creative music and excellent playing to enjoy here, but the trio sabotages their own record with long patches of uncompelling tape and noise experimentation. And what's with the liner notes? "Light upon light, Allah draws to himself whom he pleases"? Pardon my appearance, but isn't Allah that guy who drove a plane into the World Trade Center? No drawing for me, thanks! And who is this "Peter Lamborn Wilson" character that they credit for influencing the layout of the booklet? I mean, obviously I'm familiar with the underground anarcho-Sufi scholar Peter Lamborn Wilson and who isn't I mean whose mother didn't rock her kids to sleep every night while reading from Semiotext(e), but who's THIS Peter Lamborn Wilson? Some asshole?

Look, all I know is that Trey Spruance wrote all of the music on this album. That's all I know. Don't look at me for any other information because I don't have it. Is "Ana'l Haqq" about a guy that smokes cigarettes with his butt? I don't know. Is a "Bare-Faced Bazi" a Nazi with a speech impediment? You're asking the wrong guy. Is "Inn Of 3 Doors" a hilarious "Weird Al" Yankovic-like parody of the Moody Blues' "House Of 4 Doors"? I doubt it, but who am I to wager guesses about a work I've yet to even begin comprehending?

So don't be turned off too much by the 7 grade. That's really just an indication that they completely ruined the album with 6 terrible experimental pieces. But that still leaves 14 for you to enjoy! And heck, for all I know you LIKE shit! Either way, CD players come with a "skip track" button as I'm sure you know from that Red Hot Chili Peppers disc you bought, so you can always use that to go from masterpiece to masterpiece to masterpiece on this, the debut CD of San Francisco's Secret Chiefs 3, featuring Mike Patton on bass, drums, trombone, organs, guitars, vocals, synths, tape electronics and samples.

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The Theatrum of Suprasensory Universes Vol. 1 7" - Amarillo 1998
Rating = 7

It is said there is truth in the hidden mysteries of the magickal, so I mixed up the letters in "Secret Chiefs 3" and got "Ecc! 3 Free Shits!" These shits can be found here, on this 11-track, 2-song masterJERK from the young and early Secret Chiefs Band.

Even more so than on the preceding LP, SC3 here presents itself as less a band than an avant-garde weirdo noise collective. Instead of playing you Middle Eastern songs with instruments of melodic delight, they award you the gifts of funny rhythmic mouth noises, bendy splashy racket, clattering drums, eletric wigglies, creverbed banging, spluttery stop-start phweeks and psplangs, buzzing drones, wordless chants, faux-Japanese grunts, shouts of "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!," dragging scrapes, gigantic noise attacks, sped-up banjos, horrific screams, dainty chimes and other audio FX from the Chuck Jones Songbook of Raymond Scott (Spike Jones Edition). There is one bit of groovy bass-driven intrigue jazz, and another of '70s cop show theme parody, but the rest of this "music" is worth hearing only for the splatsick audio humor and unpredictable editing.

Now here are a few jokes for today's young people:

What's the difference between the World Cup and Justin Beiber?
All the World Cup balls eventually drop!

Okay, that's plenty. Let's move on.

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Hurqalya (Second Grand Constitution And Bylaws) - Amarillo 1998
Rating = 8

But alas, Trevor Dunn has become Trevor DONE, leaving the band after a barrelling fistfight with Ritchie Blackmore to form the Trevor Dunn Trio Convulsant of Boring Improvisational Jazz. His survivors, the Secret Chiefs 3, from here on in ranged anywhere from Secret Chiefs 2 (as on most of this disc) to Secret Chiefs 10, with Eyvind Kang, William Winant, Bar McKinnon and several other folks joining the festivities and bringing a cake of music.

If you're a fan of the stuff Frank Zappa was doing five thousand years ago, you'll be disappointed to hear that this CD includes none of the tape dickery and "diversity" that so marred the SC3 debut, instead serving up seven bowls of spicy Indian/Arabic souffle, three side orders of surf/spy/spaghetti western spaghetti, a dash of Techno lemon peel, and a virtual grab bag (veritable cornucopia) of finger cymbals, tambourines, shakers, violins, timpani, snare drums, cymbals, hammer dulcimers, ankle bells, (skin) flutes, (male sexual) organs, (peni)sitars, guitars, basses, drums, synths, keyboards, trumpets and zithers, along with a dumbec (Middle Eastern hourglass-shaped drum that is played with hands and fingers), erhu (Chinese violin/fiddle with two strings), kanjira (Indian lizard-skin tambourine), and fake mandolin/saz (a Turkish long-necked lute).

But you must trust me here -- it's not enough to be a Mr. Bungle fan. You MUST like Indian and Arabic music to enjoy this album. Apart from one or two oddball asides, Secret Chiefs 3 is not a rock and roll band by any stretch of the hymen. Instead, they play traditional-style world musics and then weirden them up by fiddleforking around with the production, distortion and audio effects until all GENUINE Middle Easterners leave the room screaming and flying airplanes into buildings, which is all they ever do because Islam is a religion of hate.

Circus pioneer R.D. Burman once said, "There's a sucker born every once in a while," and his guidance was responsible for a full TWO tracks on here - the lush, beautiful western-themed "The Rose Garden Of Mystery" and ethnicy Indian western "Mera Pyar Shalima," both performed by a slap aah fuck it.

Surf also aah fuck it.

And there's this aah fuck it.

Who says order is preferable to entropy? Law to chaos? Government and police to disorder and anarchy? I do. Rahul Dev Burman is the king of Bollywood soundtrack composers, and has likely never pioneered a circus at all. Forget the lies you heard earlier. If you like Bollywood, you'll LOVE two of the songs on this album! There, that's my R.D. Burman biography. Do you think you could sell that into Doubleday?

The only other "covered" artist on here is the nephew of former Beatles colleague Ravi Shankar, a young and now deceased man named Ananda Shankar who penned the generically Indian "Renunciation" sitar song. Interesting to note is that only four of the ten songs on here feature outside musicians (outside of Trey and Danny) and of those four, THREE are these cover tunes I just listed. Isn't that a whim? It's almost as if they flat-out refused to learn Trey's songs. Can you believe that shit? What assholes they all are! Except William Winant, who held his nose to keep out the stink of Trey's Arabic keyboard tune "Hirqalya" when he agreed to play on it. Jesus, this review is following no logical order at all. Look at that! I've "self-referenced"! That makes me a member of Generation X! (Generation Yers are too busy getting laid 500 times a day to self-refer)

Let's start again at the beginning. Cock-a-doodle-do! That rooster is the beginning. You see, when an egg i

But look, as long as you understand that Secret Chiefs 3 focus on Indian and Arabic music and not funk metal, you'll likely enjoy the living fruck out of the ways they screw around with the source material. Need some fast bouncy crazy Turk music that suddenly veers into an endless fake techno drum solo? Here! How about a slow pasghetti western song smothered in exotica harps of sultriness? Here! Been asking around for a solo Indian piece that slowly becomes so overdistorted and speaker-blowing that it sounds like Trey is being attacked by a swarm of bees? Here! How about some goosebumply guitar harmonics over a disco beat with snazzy clanging and shaky metal percussion, followed by Indian music, chanting drones, weird distorted synth noises, scuzzy weird breaks and fastness? No? Great, because here!

And as I stated in the opening paragraph, there ARE at least a few minor respites from the Indian/Turkish charade parade (though nowhere near the insane genre-splashing rigmarole of the first CD). So if minor-key intonation and wiggly squiggly overserious music of pyramids and holy temples fail to fill your interest bag, how about some surf music with ugly ring modulation? Yes, it's ring modulation, an audio effect performed by multiplying two audio signals and outputting the sum and difference of the two! The result is a signal rich in overtones that produces bell-like or metallic sounds, but all you need to know is that if it's butt-ugly and almost inconceivably out of tune, it's ring modulation! If the threatening and loud background chords in "Waves Of Blood" don't modulate enough ring for you, the hilariously disgusting "Broken Glass Hearse" sure should, theoretically! It's the most out-of-tune-sounding surf song since The Shaggs' "Surfin' Foot-Foot"! Or Jandek's "I Surfed Into The Darkness Of My Empty Grave Hole"! Oh! Or Daniel Johnston's "Attacking People With An Axe! (While Surfing!)"! It's like what they teach you in kindergarten: "You won't get no fornication/If you don't stop playing that ring modulation!"

Many, many people consider this to be the finest Secret Chiefs 3 release yet uncovered. I do quite enjoy it as well, but being a non-conosseiur of any type of music other than BTO-style goodtime rock and roll, I don't think this would ever find its way into my "Favorite 73 Albums Of All Time" list, if I were to make one (which I'm not). So as a fond farewell, please let me wish you a firm adieu with a sentiment my my my once written twice by babe Peter Gabriel:

"Show for me, I will show for you!" Unless he's saying "chaffeur."

Did you totally get that Great White reference in the "fond farewell" sentence? Read it again if you didn't - it's awesome! It'll blow your socks away!

Reader Comments
Re: "I don't think this would ever find its way into my 'Favorite 73 Albums Of All Time' list, if I were to make one"

Um, was that some sort of inside joke on me? Anyways, good review, probably my favorite SC3 album.

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Eyes Of Flesh-Eyes Of Flame - Web Of Mimicry 1999
Rating = 7

I recently received an email from a young man who exclaimed that he generally enjoys my reviews but that I have gotten "lost up my arse" quite a bit lately. As such, I hereby present a normal record review, written without my arse. You'll forgive me if I put myself to sleep while attempting this task.

I'm sorry son, but my constant barking and chewing on the furniture has to stop. HA! HAH AHAHAHAH! HAHAH HOOA!!! YOU'RE ALL LAUGHING WITH ME!!!! Here then is the "normal" review. This one's for you, Rolling Spin!

Eyes Of Flesh-Eyes Of Flame is a 1998 concert performance by Trey Spruance, Danny Heifetz, Eyvind Kang, Bar McKinnon, Phil Franklin and John Wayne Law. It features very tight, strong performances of Arabic/Indian music, and is highlighted by jet skis of great musicianship. Howeveer, it also features some very dull solo portions and a few songs that are less interesting than some they could have played instead.

The first track is a 21-minute medley of the following tracks: Adept Chamber of the Magian Tavern/Inn Of Three Doors/Theme From 23rd Nade/Inn Of Three Doors/(drawing of 5 skulls)/Combat For The Angel/Theory Of The Supreme Ones/Mary Of Magdalen. Three of these are Eyvind Kang compositions, two (or three if you count "Inn of Three Doors" twice) are from the first album, one would wind up on Book M, and I've no clue what the drawing of five skulls is supposed to be. The song starts and ends pretty amazingly, but suffers because eight minutes of it is a violin solo. It starts off as Arabic surf, with sitar, surf guitar, flute, and wah-wahed violin. Then grotesque modulated notes drag you into a groovy swingin' tune. Then your dick comes out and

Then there's a surf guitar all surfin' around into some groovy organ psych. Then soft moving organ wash drama, then spaghetti western, then dance beat with fast arabic synth line. VERY well-played! Excellent Arabic music, until it gets stuck in the boring as hell wah-wah violin solo for 8 minutes. Like a Grateful Moslem Dead "jam" or jazz improv. Then back into Ennio Moricone-style goodness. But then......

I had a little bit of luck; you were awake. I couldn't take another moment alone. Hello everyone! I'm Jeb McFiddlydoo and welcome to Roger Waters' Solo Albums Corner! Today on "The Corner," we're taking a look at the bread crunching noise on The Pros And Cons Of Hitch-Hiking. Is it sufficiently crunchy? Could it be crunchier? And how does it compare with the part where the waitress asks if he takes sugar in his coffee, and you can hear the coffee pot clinking against the mug? For that matter, do either of these moments hold a candle to the "car zooming by" noise at the end of side one? If we have enough time, we'll also discuss the samples of the kid yelling from the movie Shane. Are there enough Shane samples? Could there be more Shane samples? And how do they compare with the "dog barking" noises on Radio KAOS and Amused To Death? And don't forget to tune in next week when we tackle the controversial topic, "Has Roger Waters written any actual songs since leaving Pink Floyd?"


The arrangements are hit or miss, and not predictably so either. I mean, certainly "Assassin's Blade" and "Jabalqa/Jabarsa" were poised to blow out the toot live, but the formerly tepid "Renunciation" is surprisingly hard rocking and tough, while (on the disappointing side) the formerly beautiful "Rose Garden of the Mystery" drips like a smaltzy soap opera theme and "Zulfikar" sounds like Gary Numan doing a snake dance as he drives around in his little car. Fans will probably be most excited about the previously unreleased "Ciocarlia" - a fast great kooky Eastern polka with flute, trumpet and metal guitar, it's a public domain winner!

So to complete my many, many thoughts, Eyes Of Blue, Heart So Love has its great moments and its weak moments but most importante-ly of all is to point out that THEY CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THESE SONGS LIVE!!!!!! These are NOT easy songs! Everybody in the Middle East, a terrorist breeding ground, must be on amphetamines because these songs require some really fast, tight group playing!

(*phone rings*)

Helbo? What's that? This is Jan Guccione Wenior, publisher of Rolling Spin, and you want to pay me $160,000 a year to be your Executive Album Reviewer? Hot ships!!! Count me hired!

What's that? Why no, I didn't like Mick Jagger's Goddess In The Doorway at all! In fact, I and everybody I know think that it's the biggest piece of shit ever released by a major artist, and that you'd have to be a 65-year-old queen with no musical taste or integrity to find one positive thing to say about it. Why do you ask?

(*phone no longer rings*)


Reader Comments
Hello Mark!

I accidentaly stumbled upon your web page while i was browsing for Mr. Bungle articles, and since then i am a regular reader of your reviews. great stuff, funny as hell.

Last night i was reading the Secret Chiefs 3 page, and i saw that you mentioned the song "Ciocarlia" when you were talking about Eyes Of Flesh-Eyes Of Flame: "Fans will probably be most excited about the previously unreleased "Ciocarlia" - a fast great kooky Eastern polka with flute, trumpet and metal guitar, it's a public domain winner!"

Well, i just wanted you to know that "Ciocarlia" is a traditional romanian song, it's not a polka, and it's not eastern. Oh, well, you can call Romania an eastern country, but geographicaly is a cetral-european country (not that you care). Anyway, Secret Chiefs 3 only took a small part of the song, it' actualy quite long. It's about a bird, called "ciocarlie" in romanian, and the song is trying to recreate the sound this bird does.

If you want to add this small info in your review, it's ok. if you don't want, it's still ok.

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Book M - Web Of Mimicry 2001
Rating = 8

See, here's the issue: the Secret Chiefs 3 is a great band whom I respect tremendously and whose fans are (I'd imagine) fairly intelligent. As such, I'm encountering this "mental writer's block" thing that's stopping me from comfortably doing my usual "how's about a stinky?" slapdash job of "reviewing" the music while "covered in my own urine." Trying to explain what they sound like and why I do or don't like certain tracks is difficult because (a) I'm constantly second- and third-guessing myself, knowing that the band members are around 800,000 times more intelligent and musically talented than I. And (b) most of the band members are Joe Everymans like you and me, so it's not inconceivable that they might run across these words on the Internet some fine day. Usually this is not the case. The Beatles, for example, are quite unlikely to ever read my Beatles reviews, so I can refer to Sir Paul McCartney as a 'cum-guzzling fairy boy faggotass pussy cock douche priss walking around with his wrist all limp and writing homo songs because he's gay and wants AIDS' without concern that his adulterous and cuckolding wife will hit me in the head with her leg while some other man is balling her gruesome stump. But on the topic of Secret Chiefs 3, record reviewing feels like stress. And I don't DO stress. As an unrelated aside, I'm totally constipated and my stomach feels like I ate a boulder. Which I did, but I figured my stomach acids would break it down into poop like when I ate the cellphone.

Book M, Dan-o has been called "a bit cold" by a person I asked about it earlier this week. And I too Will (and Gracefully so) admit that it's essentially a straightforward mixture of Middle Eastern music merged with techno, a bit of metal and some jazzy funk horns here and there. Which I realize isn't actually "straightforward" by most peoples' standards, but my point is that the production is fairly normal, and the overriding tone is one of "Look at how well we can play these difficult songs of a foreign genre." These songs are INCREDIBLY well played, performed and arranged. And the playing is so tight, you'll swear it's a heterosexual man's ass!

I totally just thought of the greatest bumper sticker slogan for people who don't think gayfers should be allowed to get married (just wanted to let you know I'm not really homophobic. Homo-erotic? Sure! But hang on...), so here's my bumper sticker slogan: "Heterosexual? More like BETTER-osexual, if you ask me!"

You can't spell Book M without Mark, so let me be the first to tell you about all the crazy instruments that Trey, Danny, Eyvind and the boys play on this CP/LD. On the straight dark ethnic opener "Knights Of Damcar," you will encounter six merry musicians playing the darbuka (Tunisian pot drum), riq (Egyptian tambourine), dumbek (Middle Eastern drum shaped like a chalice, with a skin or plastic head), santur (Persian hammered dulcimer), contrabass (an EXTREMELY low pitched instrument), saz (Turkish folkloric stringed instrument), and keyboard (Peruvian rhythm instrument shaped like a wooden board with peoples' car keys nailed to it). You will hear many of these same bizarre and non-cutting-edge instruments in the lopey-dopey Tom Waits Turkish waltz "Ship Of Fools," along with a cumbus mandolin (Turkish 8-string mandolin), tar (Iranian lute) and cumbas baglama (Turkish long-necked lute). Tune in the fuzzed-out Eastern Techno "Horsemen Of The Invisible" for zils (Turkish finger cymbals) and microtonal guitar (a guitar with frets in really weird fuckin' places so you can play all kinds of notes between the notes). And if your goal is to hear the world's oldest known drum, the answer to your prayers of success might just be answered by the regal, mesmerizing and eerie saltarello "Siege Perilous," driven by the world-famous "Frame Drum" of yesteryear! Also there are some guitars, bass and drums on some tracks if you want to put them in George Bush's Ipod. I know what I'D like to put in George Bush's Ipod!!!! (presuming it's possible to convert a napalm explosion into MP3 format)

Trey Spruance once again wrote most of the material and his nose for news is still ripe for the picking. Although its roots, bloody roots, lie in the East, that isn't meant to imply or for you to infer that every song sounds exactly the same. Differently pleasured wonders to behold include:

-- "Hagia Sophia," an old Turkmeni melody to which a solo Trey brings distorted house beats, scary bird noises, keyboards of dark malevolence and huge killer rock guitars
-- "Vajra," featuring a riff that sounds almost like a white boy blues lick, but played by macho Indians! (not the "hoy-yoy-yoy-yoy" kind; the kind that aren't smelly alcoholics)

-- "Dolorous Stroke," a Swell Mapsy speed rocker filled with clangy drone noises and a chipper lil' bass line -- performed by the original Secret Chiefs 3 line-up! Is it just an old rarity, or did an actual reunion happen for this track???? I bet the former, and I bet with Susan B. Anthony dollars!

-- "Blaze Of The Grail" and "Safina," two horn-filled funk-soul-jazz-middle-eastern tracks that sound like the theme songs to detective exploitation movies filmed in Libya. "Safina" is apparently a cover of a song by Ethiopian legend (?) Girma Beyene, but I've never heard the original so don't ask for a photograph of their differences, especially in English.

So you see, aside from the boring violin solo, the worthless "Zulfigar" sequel, the generic "Lapsit Exillis" and the piece of shittingly bland "Lapsis Baitulous," no God in the sky has ever made a world music album so enjoyably fun-filled, ridiculously good and tightly spectacular. "A bit cold"? Some might say so, but I say "mature."

Oh I'm sorry - did I say "mature"? I meant "mastectomy." Hide your wife's rack because every copy of Book M is literally soaking in tit radiation!

Reader Comments (Eric)
Hello! I stumbled upon your website and was reading about the Secret Chiefs 3 song "Safina". I found out that it's actually based off a song recorded by a band called Daktaris. The song is called Musicawa Silt and is on the album Soul Explosion. I was able to find and download the song and confirm.

Thanks for the website!

this album fucking rules! you should give it at least one more star. i'm sorry if this is a terribly uneloquent thought to be added but shit.

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* Book Of Horizons - Web Of Mimicry 2004 *
Rating = 10

Those who have been in a rock roll band know how difficult it can be to keep one band from ripping each others' guts out, let alone SIX bands! Luckily nobody is foolish enough to be in six different bands at the same time. Until now, that is!

The concept of Book Of Horizons is that six different Middle Eastern bands have gathered together to release a compilation. But there's just one catch - every last one of these bands has to put up with Trey Spruance's bullshit! And that's just what happens here on Book Of Horizons. Whether playing Russian oompahs, Tom Waits Indian sleaze and gamelans with FORMS, complex Afghan melodies with ISHRAQIYUN, Eno soundscapes with TRADITIONALISTS, Mr. Bungle-style genre-hopping smorgasbords with THE ELECTROMAGNETIC AZOTH, Faxed Head-style death metal insanity with THE HOLY VEHM, or brilliant Americanized Easternisms with UR, Trey Spruance is once again at the top of his game and the bottom of your list of "modern-times artistic prodigies" (because you just added him, at my suggestion - that's why he's at the bottom. Under Elton John and Grand Funk Railroad.)

Not only is this the most diverse Screwtit Chiefs 3 release since the debut; it also features the most consistently brain-teasing and ear-pleasing songwriting and instrumental interplay of the band's long, sweaty career. There seem to be billions of different instruments hopping in and out of the mix every few seconds, yet as cerebral as it can get, the result is still quite emotional -- sometimes sorrow-ridden and longing, other times pissed enough to lead a Jihad, but always representative of SOME human emotion or another. Not that dogs don't have emotions. They're just like you and me except for the navel. Ours is a little circle; theirs is more of a vertical line. Otherwise there is no biological difference between humans and dogs.

As it took me several hours and three hands to type in all of my notes, I've decided to simply share them all with you "As Are," rather than bothering to rework them into paragraphs. I already told you in general what the record sounds like and why it's such a hoot. If you'd like more specific information on why this is one of the greatest releases of the 21st century, feel free to read on. If you're not interested, ask yourself why. Could it be that you're afraid? Afraid that my notes will simply be TOO good for you to deal with? Look, we all have to face our little insecurities in life sometimes, but that's no reason to deprive yourself of the beauty of my notes. Of course your notes will never be as good as my notes. But note-taking shouldn't be a competition -- we should support each other. If you ever have trouble taking a note, you know you can count on me. No, I won't take your notes for you, but I would be happy to tell you how good my notes are. It's like Jesus said -- if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for one day. But if you TEACH a man to fish, he'll catch all the fish that you would normally catch and your family will waste away and die. So fuck you asshole - you're not gonna catch (steal) my fish (note-taking fame) -- my family (ego) shall fatten (grow in stature due to my talent at note-taking) until we explode (serve as a "human bomb" on a crowded aircraft)!

MY NOTES (Warning: Teasers!!!):

FORMS = William Winant, Timb Harris, Jennifer Cass, Jesse Greere, Trey Spruance and special guests. Their three songs are:

The End Times - tablas, shakers, glockenspiel, esraj (Indian bowed stringed instrument), sarangi (Indian fiddle with a jillion strings), drums, violin, viola, bowed saw, harp, bass, vocals, acoustic guitar, electric piano, organ, santur, synth. TEN MUSICIANS!!!! Post-rock vibrato organ and piano into Tom Waitsy sleaze breakdown with a bowed saw and Indian sound. Basic sad Indian melody. A little dull, but okay. The weakest actual "song" on the album. Way to place it right at the beginning!

The Owl In Daylight - Dedicated to Philip K. Dick, sci-fi author with uproarious last name. glockenspiel (orchestra bells in some conglomeration or another), tube bells (like in The Exorcist!), shakers, drums, violin, viola, harp, bass, vocals, electric and acoustic piano, clavinet (best known for its peppy role in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," as well as Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Underfoot," which sounds nothing at all like "Superstition" and is completely different in many not-difficult-to-discern ways), synth, guitar. Seven musicians. Eerie notes on these weird instruments. Gamelany, multi-parted, hypnotic, great! Then into sort of a sad ballad into slow heavy guitar part with bells and drones on top, then back to gamelan. Awesome song! Got an awesome song - goin' dong!

Welcome To The Theatron Animatronique - marimba (like a xylophone but an octave lower), glockenspiel, timpani (kettle drums), tube bells, cymbals, bass & snare drums, shakers, violin, viola, harp, vocals, electric and acoustic piano, organ, vocals, synth, clavinet. Organ playing Italiany accordion thing, then delayed ping-pong guitar notes in each speaker. Exotica touches. Then it turns into Russian oompah! Dark yet fun! Bells, exotic harp flourishes, sad quiet orchestrated stops and back. Very theatrical and IMPORTANT-sounding breaks. Then manly-group-sung vocals. Awesome!

ISHRAQIYUN = Shahzad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang, Rich Doucette, Danny Heifetz, Trey Spruance and special guests. Their two songs are:

The 4 (Great Ishraqi Sun) - 7 musicians. dhol (bulky drum from Punjab), mridangam (South Indian double-sided drum), ghatam (mud pot used in south Indian classical music), zil, viola, esraj, drums, shamisen (3-stringed Japanese instrument used in kabuki theater), violin, rabab (Afghani bowed instrument), saz, bass, microtone guitar, synth. Great uptempo Indian thing. Lots of drama on stringed instruments. Perhaps intended to sound like a Middle Eastern kabuki theater, where all the Middle Eastern chinks hang out.

The 3 (Afghan Song) - 7 musicians. Composer unknown. dhol, mridangam, ghatam, daf (fancy word for "frame drum"), viola, esraj, drums, santur, bass, rabab, sitar guitar, clavinet, synth. Indiany. Nice stringed instrument stuff. Nice playing. Drama! By which I of course mean the top-selling 1980 release by prog rock supergroup Yes. "Into The Lens" indeed!

TRADITIONALISTS = Trey Spruance and guests. Their three songs are:

The Indestructible Drop - 3 musicians. Chinese and Tibetan gongs, harp, organ, soundscapes. One minute of low hums and eerieness. Just strange and disconcerting! Then into bells and gongs. Eno has an album called The Drop -- could this be a thankfully brief tribute?

The Exile - 6 musicians. violin, viola, timpani, bass & snare drum, tube bells, gong, cymbals, vocals, harp, acoustic guitar, tack piano, banjo, vocals, keyboards, electric guitar. HEY! This line-up should be FORMS! It's the same people! FUCKER!!!! Very sad ballad. Acoustic, westerny to my ears. Violins, acoustics, sad! I can't stop crying! Now the screen is gonna be all runny!

Electrotheonic Grail Dove - 3 musicians. drums, bass, piano, cheng (Chinese zither), soundscapes. Short pointless shitty noisemaking clatter. But with jazzy bass runs! Clinky clanky. Too much of this could ruin an album. I'm warning you!

THE ELECTROMAGNETIC AZOTH = Shahzad Ismaily, William Winant, Ches Smith, Jennifer Cass, Trey Spruance and guests. Their two songs are:

On The Wings Of The Haoma - 5 musicians. mridangam, ghatam, glockenspiel, gongs, drums, harp, organ, saz, clavinet, electric and acoustic guitar, piano, bass, synth, shakers, dumbeks, tambourines, foley sounds (sound effects added to a film during post production), electroacoustic treatments. Beats and weird fast squeals, cartoony stuff! Tribal cartoon music! Then into insane noise, then music, strangeness, more changes - awesome! So many unpredictable changes! BUNGLEY changes! Ends in a song kinda like "All My Love" or "Wicked Game." Sing either lyric along with it as I did, and it'll be like we're in the same room together, sharing love.

DJ Revisionist (the Spin Masta, Kultur Killa, with da mad crypto-colonial skillz) - 7 musicians. mridangam, ghatam, glockenspiel, tube bells, violin, drums, harp, esraj, bass, organ, microtonal guitar, rabab, acoustic and electric piano, clavinet, extra percussion, foley sounds and electroacoustic treatments. Really pissed off sounding melody. A bit of surf guitar, violins. Just very bitter! Then the tape splicing noise begins - odd skipping, fkippy craziness. Disconcerting. Needles on records and off. Then more songness, then back to something that made my wife ask my dog, "Henry, what's that horrible noise?"

THE HOLY VEHM = Unhuman, John Merriman, Jesse Quattro, Jessica Kinney, The Enemy. Their two songs feature three vocalists, drums, guitar, bass, samples, and are:

Exterminating Angel - Speed thrash with creepy Arabic sounds and screaming. Weird, hypnotic, strange, fast! Then into dark guitar-driven death metal. Rules!

Hypostasis of the Archons - Faxed Head-style death metal insanity! Crazy scary noises of greatness. Insane complex screaming/growling death metal. Selur!

UR = Timb Harris, Jesse Greere, Tim Smolens, Trey Spruance and friends. Their two songs are:

Exodus - a cover of the awesome Ernest Gold composition, rescored for surf band and orchestra. 8 musicians. drums, viola, violin, timpani, tube bells, bass drum, cymbals, vocals, bass, harp, guitar, organ, piano, keyboards. GREAT song! I have it by the Ventures. Just an excellent composition and performance. So GRAND! So AMERICAN! I hope Ernest Gold is American, because this sounds like America to me. "Oh say can you see?/By the dawn's err.. Lee Majors/What's the probably hate

Anthropomophosis: Boxleitner - 5 musicians. drums, violin, viola, vocals, bass, synth, electric piano, guitar. Scary air raid siren violins into bouncy catchy dark uptempo pop rock played on violin and viola, into dark orchestral overdrive. Fuzzy dark synth breaks. TONS of changes and awesomeness! Pop sections, Indian pop, Mideastern, American rock, etc. Fantastic song!!! So good I smoked a Dixie and came back left-handed!

So you see, even when a CD ends, you can feel good about having its bits and remnants running round and round through your head. That's what long-term memory is all about! Thank you, Secret Chiefs 3, for reminding us of this important lesson. And thank you again.

Also, thank you for all the great times we shared this year. I know I won't remember you in five years (J/K) and sorry about when I pooped in your car but I learned so much this year just hanging out and talking about music and philosophy. Carpe diem and stay political. What a long strange trip it's been....

Reader Comments
Hey mark, great reviews as usual. Man, you were right on with Book of Horizons... that was the best CD of 2004 and one of the best CD's of all time, but it was pretty much overlooked by everyone. Damn. You gave it the 10 it deserves. Thank you.
Ah be likin dat tawk yaw do boa, dat be mahty fine. Dat tawk yaw be doin ower dem Chilli's fair set me a hootin. Ah be slappin mah face foh fun ower dat. Yaw also be sayin some fine speak ower dat poop. Yaw talk a good poop man, I givye dat , yessir. Ah well dun misser Pringle, well done. Yaw be one straight shootah yessir indeed.

Alsa I be mindin owe dat misser Spruer sar, he seema be mindin that misser Crowley, yessir. What wih dat der red, tri-an-gula sim-bahl on that there 'Book ah Hee-ri-Zones' un dat name uh dem 'Chiefs' uh fair mindin he be uh reefer-encin dat misser Crowley as such, yessir. Ahd say dat misser Spruer he be jivin like he mindin he some kinda owe-cul-teest yessir. Ahl rekhen he be likin dem 7s...fancy maybe even dem 777s? Anyhow dat be some mahty fine playin an such, so ah be praisin dat der misser Spruer, yessir indeed.
Dude, this album is seriously the shit. It was right up there with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum last year for album of the year. You really gave this album the rating it deserves.
I loved your review of Secret Chiefs 3's album, Book of Horizons. It sorta made me wonder (in an obnoxiously loud voice), "Who the fuck is this guy and how did he get such mad note-taking skills?"

Anyway, I completely agree with you that it is definitely one of the best releases (if not the best) of 2004 (Eric)
Hey, nice info! I ran across your site and it just so happened that I found some songs you might find interesting (I have the songs shared on Soul Seek my username is Harry Houdini: I also have SC3 songs from compilations and several live shows)

"Adept Chamber of the Magian Tavern" from First Grand Constitution and Bylaws is a R.D. Burman cover of the song "Dilbar Dil Se Pyare" from the soundtrack to the movie "Caravan."

"Safina" from Book M is a cover of "Musicawa Silt" by the band Daktaris from the 1998 album "Soul Explosion".

The repeated percussion breakdown on "Jabalqa" & "Jabarsa" from 2nd Constitution is a sample of "Hard Like It's a Rose" by Alec Empire from the 2000 album "Destroyer"

"Waves of Blood" from 2nd Constitution is a cover of "Surf Party" by The Astronauts from 1963.

"Broken Glass Hearse" from 2nd Constitution is a cover of "The Hearse" by The Astronauts from 1964 album "Surf Fiction".

"Blaze of The Grail" from Book is a cover of the song "Shalimar (Title Music)" from the album "Bollywood Funk" (the artist is listed as "Unknown")

Wow. I just read more of your site and saw that I actually posted a note a long time ago about "Safina." Hey, I'm a moron!

Hope this helps.

Add your thoughts?

The Electromagnetic Azoth: The Left Hand of Nothingness 7" - Web of Mimicry 2007
Rating = 8

In 2007, SC3 released four singles by the "satellite bands" introduced on Book Of Horizons. And, say! Here's one now!

This single pairs a fake horror film soundtrack by The Electromagnetic Azoth with a driving rock cover of John Carpenter's Halloween theme by UR. Side A, though a perfectly moody mixture of broken cuckoo clocks, electronic drones, music boxes, string stabs and frightened breathing, was later rendered redundant by Traditionalists: Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini. Side B, on the other hand, slays America's youth to this day with a hooky eerie asskickery that should've secured it an opening slot in Rob Zombie's cinematic remake of the same year. (Unless the song came out after the movie, in which case Zombie should've unreleased his film, put the song in, then re-released it)

I feel like I've forgotten how to write a record review. My mind is all over the place. Am I supposed to be describing the actual surface of the record? It's flat with a long tight spiral going around and around towards the center. When you apply a needle to the outermost section of the spiral, you give it a tattoo.

There's a heat wave occurring this week in NYC. My decades-old Quietmaster is trying to keep up, but it's a losing battle. Move about three feet away, to the window or to the wall, and sweat will drip f

Here are a few things I've learned about life. I invite you to learn from them:

1. If you have a person of the opposite sex who wants to be with you, and you feel the same way, CHERISH IT. Because before long, you'll be alone again. Trust me on this. Everyone I ask agrees.

2. People who constantly talk about themselves are the most annoying people in the world. To avoid becoming one, ask lots of questions in social situations. You can't learn by talking anyway - only by listening.

3. Alcohol is an excellent social lubricant, but if you drink too much at a time, you'll find it impossible to speak to anybody. Because you'll be asleep.

4. Every transgressive act you can think of has already been done. Mostly by hippies.

5. You have very little control over your circumstances. It may not feel that way, but it's true. If you feel like you're in control, fate just hasn't fucked you in the ass yet.

6. Be careful what you do and say. There are some funny laws out there.

7. UFOs are actually just ghosts playing a hilarious prank on the world.

8. John F. Kennedy murdered three men on a grassy knoll before turning his invisible gun on himself.

9. Bush knew about the 9/11 terror attacks just days after they happened.

10. Life is shit. Life is shit. The world is shit. The world is shit. This is life as I know it.

Add your thoughts?

UR: Kulturvultur 7" - Web of Mimicry 2007
Rating = 9

UR ROCKS ASS. Of all the SC3 satellite bands, it's UR that finds the most inspiration in hard-hitting rock sounds. Sure, they love Eastern melodies as much as the next SC3 satellite band, but when they play them, they play them hard! With guts! And a tractor! (possibly; not sure about that one) "Kulturvultur" sounds like a Middle Eastern cover of Fugazi's "Arpeggiator," with a grreeeeat arpeggiated up-and-down note riff and tough beat. B-side "Drive" is Indie Rock done right -- a warm, emotional and uptempo stringed/piano rocker of dark and light, reminiscent of Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. Thank you UR, for the excellent single with which you have gifted the world!

Another cool thing about UR is that kids are constantly texting about them to their friends. Here are just several examples I've uncovered by pretending to be a teenager:

"UR gay"

"UR scaring me"

"UR a 36-year-old man"

Yes, the youth of today has certainly warmed its open hearts to the silent sounds of Mike Patton's UR! Way to go, Mike Patton!

Add your thoughts?

UR: Circumambulation 7" - Web of Mimicry 2007
Rating = 8

Here's a great joke I just made up:

Q. What's a dog's favorite Secret Chiefs 3 satellite band?


Get me Laffy Taffy on the phone; this one's going to sell like wildfire!

"Circumambulation" is a Polvo-esque bendy-note Eastern-tinged rock song interspersed with proggy Bloodrock organ breaks. Lots of solos occur, but not to the detriment of the track. B-side "Labyrinth Of Light" mixes uptempo bash-crash drums, surf guitar, big cheerful chords, proggy Styx organ breaks and Trans Am anthemics. Both tracks feature fake live audiences.

Give us a full-length UR album, Trey Spruance! Don't you know about the UR? Well, everybody's talking now about the UR! I said UR! UR! UR-UR's the word a well-ah...

(*drum break*)

Good old The Trashmen and their urging of Trey Spruance to release a full-length UR album.

I'm totally obsessed with these stupid Facebook photo effects. Have you seen all these idiot photos I've been posting? "My friend Henry The Fuzzy Blob"? "Zombie Mark enjoying a tasty Zombie Diet Coke"? "It looks like one of my eyes is bigger than the other, but that's a trick of perspective -- the right side of my face is actually five feet behind the left side."? It's incredible how many cures for cancer I could've developed by now were I not spending all my time fucking around with the site's ridiculous "fisheye," "pinch" and "swirl" effects. So if your father dies of cancer, blame Facebook.

Hey, I just figured out a way to get us out of Iraq! One second though -- I want to make this photo look like I have a really big ear.

Hee hee! Look at my hilarious big ear!

Add your thoughts?

Xaphan: The Book Of Angels, Vol. 9 - Tzadik 2008
Rating = 8

Thanks to a delightful wheat germ pizza crust I imbibed last night, I've spent an inordinate amount of time in the restroom today. Not one to waste even a moment of free time, I used this "restful period" to craft a brilliant series of 'audience interaction' stand-up comedy gags for all my stand-up comedian readers out there. Feel free to use any of these jokes in your act, provided you follow each with the spoken disclaimer "Copyright Mark Prindle Enterprises International Corporation Limited 2008 - 'With Mark Prindle, The Joke's On Ewe!!! Because all his jokes are about female sheep.'"

Here they are:

YOU: "Hello there sir, what's your name?"
YOU: "Here you go." (*hand him the mic; listen to crowd roar with laughter*)

YOU: "Thank you for coming tonight! What's your name?"
YOU: "One sec, I'll get your waiter." (*pretend to summon waiter from back of club; enjoy peals of hysterical crowd enjoyment*)

YOU: "And how are you, sir. What's your name?"
YOU: (*Walk hurriedly towards him*) "Oh thank God." (*let audience laugh at your rib-tickler until you reach the man*) "Should I just go on your shirt, or do you want to hold a glass out or what?" (*earn Nobel Prize For Comedy Gags; retire early*)

YOU: "And you, sir! What's your name?"
YOU: "Dwight?" (*point at African-American audience member*) "Have you met de black?" (*watch entire crowd die of Funny Bone AIDS*)

For this last one, obviously insert your own name wherever I say 'Mark.' Otherwise it won't make any sense at all, and Johnny Carson will call you a stupid prick on-air:

YOU: "What's your name, sir?"
YOU: "Mark!? MY name's Mark!!! Who's your mother?"
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (confused) "Umm... Harriet Stevenson!"
YOU: "Harriet Stevenson!? MY mother's Harriet Stevenson!!! Remember how awesome it was sliding out of her vagina?"
AUDIENCE MEMBER: "Hey! Ewwww!" (*crowd is already laughing, of course, because it's hilarious*)
YOU: "No wait... My mistake. It was just my PENIS that slid out of her vagina." (*entire crowd laughs so hard that their hearts all explode at the same time, and you have to swim to safety through a Sea Of Blood*)

Yes, it's true what they say: "You can take the man out of the bathroom, but you can't take the bathroom out of the sink."

According to a leading online encyclopedia (, the goal of John Zorn's Masada group/songbook project is to create "a sort of radical Jewish music, a new Jewish music which is not the traditional one in a different arrangement, but music for the Jews of today. The idea is to put Ornette Coleman and the Jewish scales together." Now, I don't know nuthin bout all that. Like John Cougar and President George W., I'm just a regular guy from the heartland of America. But I'll tell you one thing: when Trey Spruance was invited to bring "Masada Book Two, Vol. 9" to life, he was excited as a jellybean! Lord knows why though; John Zorn blows.

Indeed, John Zorn is an alto saxophonist, so it's difficult to understand why stringed instrument king Trey Spruance would be so interested in interpreting his work. But don't worry, Secret Chiefs 3 fans; I've never heard any of the other Masada CDs (by the likes of Marc Ribot, The Cracow Klezmer Band and Eric Friedlander), but if they sound anything like this, then they sound a lot like a Secret Chiefs 3 album. And not even this one in particular, if you were confused by my shitty wording and thought I just compared Xaphan to itself.

The similarities of Xaphan to normal Secret Chiefs 3 music are as follows:
- Tons of instruments: everything from violins, woodwinds and organs to foreign oddities, rhythm weirdities, and guitars of all types and sounds.
- Intricate arrangements and careful production: different musical elements constantly pop in and out of the mix, and every instrumental tone is as clearly defined as a word in the dictionary. I'd like to congratulate the world for receiving the priceless gift of that metaphor.
- Assimilation and conglomeration of what appear to be quite diverse types of musical expression: the first track alone, according to my notes, runs as follows: "eastern-tinged melody, guitar, violins, keyboards. lots of quick little instrumental/tone changes and insertions. Groovy tough distorted fuzz guitar middle part! 60s psych-motorcycle! then a bit of groovy 60's organ, then violin screech/squeal/slides and fuzzed out bitterness. tough drums. Bongos, foreign instruments, really really cool stuff! echoed... flute? not sure! then muffled wah-wah part. Just keeps changing!"
- Obscure religious/spiritual themes

The differences between Xaphan and normal Secret Chiefs 3 music are as follows:
- Constant use of an instrument I can only describe as a "gypsy violin." I wish I knew the correct name of the instrument, but I don't get around to the gypsy section of town very often. Basically, it sounds like the kind of violin you'd hear in gypsy music.
- Improvisation. Several of these songs are composed of various solos performed over a cool little bass line. It reminds me a bit of Bitches Brew in that sense, but I'm told that this is "modal" music, so who knows. Or rather, "I don't know." Look, I don't take PRIDE in my inability to accurately describe Secret Chiefs 3 music using correct instrument names and technical terms, but remember I come from a musical background where non-guitars are 'pussy instruments' and a 5/4 beat counts as 'insane creativity.'
- Almost no vocals at all. A woman sings wordlessly (and beautifully) in the background of a few songs, but that's about it.

If you enjoy the music of the Secret Chiefs 3 and don't mind a few songs that are more 'jams' than full compositions, you will enjoy Xaphan. I've no clue how John Zorn fans will take it though, because again I've never heard any of the other Masada CDs. In fact, the only John Zorn I've heard is some of the old Painkiller and Naked City stuff, which just made me wish he'd stop bleating his fucking saxophone so I could enjoy the kickass metal behind him. Asshole.

Reader Comments (Justin Nierenhausen)
John Zorn is far to prolific and spastic for his fans to consider a collaboration with Secret Chiefs 3 odd. (I don't think that list is even fully comprehensive.)

I was also going to tell you more about Zorn and Masada, but I figured if you cared you'd already know, and decided not to waste my time. Here are some nice introductory clips though:

Add your thoughts?

Traditionalists: Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini - Web Of Mimicry 2009
Rating = 7

Anybody who's everybody knows how much I love Italian horror films so I was whistling dicks (hee!) when I heard about the latest Secret Chiefs 3 experiment. In their 'satellite band' guise "Traditionalists," they've created the soundtrack to a non-existent Italian horror film!

Unfortunately, in my haste to be excited, I forgot that I love Italian horror films for their FILMS, not their music. And sure, this is a preposterously faithful addition to the canon of '70s Italian horror movie soundtracks, but who wants to sit around and listen to a movie soundtrack!? Nobody in the world, that's who!

In the United States, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was certified 15x Platinum for shipments of over 15 million copies.

Not a soul! That's who!

As explained on the Web of Mimicry web site, the band went far beyond the use of "some vintage amps & keyboards" (though these items definitely do help date the musical style to the 1970's. The bass tone is phenomenal!) to create "original compositions that were dreamt into being in the harmonic language of the Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack." In other words, they didn't half-ass it. It truly does sound like the unique soundtrack for a '70s Italian horror film.

Ironically, this faithfulness of vision also presents the main barrier to full enjoyment of the record: far too many of the 30 tracks are devoted to brief musical cues or cacophonies of shrieking strings, rattling chimes and screaming. The actual songs are terrific, but -- as in nearly all movies -- you can't have a complete song accompanying every single scene. Horror films in particular call for multiple passages of scary noises and shock string stabs. Thus, we're stuck holding the douche bag through non-song skrakkle krakkle like "Faith's Broken Mirror," "Subcutaneous Solution," "Subdermal Sequence (Nano-Correction)," "Perfectly Reasonable," "Abolish Believers By Abolishing Belief," "Putting Forth The Hand To Take," "Psychism 3: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind' and "The Strength To Sever." And for those without a calculator, that's 8 out of 30 tracks that don't even approach musicalityness!

If you're unfamiliar with Italian horror cinema of the '70s, it was basically separated into two categories: gialli and rip-offs. Gialli were mystery thrillers distinguished by their black-glove-clad killers and scenes of graphic violence; they began with Mario Bava in the '60s and continued through the '70s until being replaced by slasher films. Rip-offs were just that: profit-seeking Italian directors loved to make their own copies of popular American films, usually rendering them even more graphic, exploitative and... well, stupid. I love 'em though!

The two most ripped-off films of this era were The Exorcist and Dawn Of The Dead, so it's a wonderful treat to see that Traditionalists' non-existent film involves both a demonic possession ("What's Wrong With Cytherea?," "Psychism 1: Cytherea's Possession," "Cytherea's Awakening") and zombies ("Zombievision," "Zombievision 2012")! Granted it also somehow involves psychic powers ("Abyss Of Psychic Enchantments," "Hypnotopia"), Greek mythology ("Dionysian Dithyramb," "Baby Hedone"), the injection of foreign objects into human flesh ("Subcutaneous Solution," "RFID Slavedriver") and food production and safety standards ("Codex Alimentarius"), so maybe we shouldn't dwell on the potential plot for now.

The film title translates to "The Severed Right Hands Of The Last Men," and its soundtrack is a whirling musicscape (?) of strings, chimes, guitars, synths, harpsichords, xylophones, celestes, church organs, flutes and groovy bass/drum disco-funk. Any fan of Italian horror cinema will instantly recognize such cliches as the oft-reprised melancholy theme song ("Sophia's Theme"), futuristic synth rocker ("RFID Slavedriver"), stark forboding zombie disco (both "Zombievision"s), creepy children's music box ("Dionysian Dithyramb," "Baby Hedone") and, best of all, corny love theme ("Love Spell"). In fact, the segue between "Cyntherea's Possession" and "Love Spell" is a masterpiece of genre parody: the very moment that the string-bashing, female-screeching possession reaches its pinnacle of nightmarish intensity... the soundtrack jarringly cuts to a fruity soft rock song. If this gag doesn't make you crack up like an egg, you need to see more movies. In fact, we ALL need to see more movies! Let's go see one right now!

(*watches Vegas Vacation*)

Okay then, no more movies.

Here's something. You know how people who think too much about things sometimes compare comedy to horror, in terms of the anticipation, surprise and pay-off? Why is it then that there are no stand-up horrorans? People who get up onstage and, instead of telling jokes, tell little stories that scare the daylights out of people? I'd go!

Here's another thing. I was engaged in Facebook conversation with a prominent publisher one night last week when he suddenly wrote something like, "Keep doing what you're doing! We want to know who you love and admire." In retrospect, I think he was just making polite conversation, but at the time it hit me like a ton of insults, and I'll tell you why.

I misread and interpreted what he wrote as the sarcastic comment, "We want to know who you like and dislike." And holy crikey, if there is any better argument for the eradication of critics and reviewers, I've yet to see it. Whether he meant it that way or not, he completely hit the nail on the head. Every critique and review, ever, by ANYBODY, represents nothing more than one single person's preferences and biases. And who gives a shit what one single person likes or dislikes? Is it possible to be any more self-important than to think that your personal likes and dislikes are worth writing down and sharing with the world? And yes, I understand that critics are expected to have a greater amount of knowledge on their chosen subject than their readers, and can thus be considered as providing a service of guiding others towards art they might like or dislike, but there's a difference between a music historian and a music reviewer, and once an opinion sneaks in, it's just another self-centered jerk talking about his personal tastes as if the rest of the world should give a toot.

And that's why I make poop jokes.

Incidentally, there is also no reason why you should feel compelled to 'better understand' a hugely popular album that you don't like. All that a record's popularity means is that a large number of unrelated individuals -- none of whom have better taste than you -- find that the record lives up to their personal requirements for a "good" piece of music. Personally, I prefer aggressive music to indie rock and guitars to pianos, but that doesn't mean that Tori Amos literally "sucks" or that all these Pitchfork readers drooling over Animal Collective are objectively "stupid pussy idiots who don't know their ass from a copy of Pet Sounds." Can you imagine how self-centered I'd have to be to think that? It's nearly insane to even consider such an amount!

Reader Comments
I don't care who you love and admire. I'm in it for the non sequiturs and poop jokes.

I also like that thing where you get drunk and tell everybody to be nice to each other; I meant to tell you that before.
I was debating on this one but your review convinced me to stay away. It's not that you hated it, but based on your review I know I will dislike it. (Johnny)
"Here's something. You know how people who think too much about things sometimes compare comedy to horror, in terms of the anticipation, surprise and pay-off? Why is it then that there are no stand-up horrorans? People who get up onstage and, instead of telling jokes, tell little stories that scare the daylights out of people? I'd go!"

GG Allin's spoken-word soliloquies might possibly count as "stand-up horror". Ok, I wasn't scared per se, but I suppose they are at least an ATTEMPT at stand-up horror.

Add your thoughts?

Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1 - Web Of Mimicry 2010
Rating = 8

And it's not just me. It seems like everybody I know is going through an emotionally devastating breakup at the moment. Here are TRUE stories about TRUE people I know. Only the names have been changed:

Paul McLennarrisonstarr - was engaged to be married and move to a foreign country with his loved one of two years. She went first, then fell in love with a guy in the foreign country and called off the wedding.

Britney Spearg - married her high school sweetheart, had two children and is now divorcing because her husband's addicted to cocaine

Xylophone Bill The Woman - After 12 years, husband suddenly announced he was no longer in love with her and moved out. She recently discovered that he now has a three-month-old child -- exactly one year after he left.

Woman Womansalot - married a foreign-born friend so he could stay in the country, then fell in love with him and found her feelings unreciprocated

I Don't Know, Some Broad - met a man she was sure she wanted to marry, so allowed him to sleep with her before the wedding. Afterwards, he turned over and said, "Boy, I miss my mother." She called off the wedding.

Madonnp - got married two years ago, then watched her husband turn into a disapproving Christian. Tried suicibe, ended up in psych ward for a week, now divorcing.

Larry Hagman, Star Of Dallas - his only sibling passed away unexpectedly. Five months later, he learned that his wife had been sleeping with another man while he'd been grieving.

Jane Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt - relationship with boyfriend failed after 12 years together

Jennifer Corcoran - seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet. Not sure why I mentioned her here, nor why I used her real name.

What is it with people and their bullshit? A long-term relationship isn't supposed to be all sparks, passion and jollies; it's supposed to be about respect, understanding, friendship, communication and love. And most of all, commitment. You can't just silently withdraw if you start feeling unhappy in a relationship. You pricks!

This CD compiles five tracks from the 2007 satellite band singles -- aforementioned "Circumambulation," "Kulturvultur" and "The Left Hand of Nothingness," along with both sides of a single I don't own (Ishraqiyun's Middle Eastern "Balance of the 19" and The Electromagnetic Azoth's awesome experimental soundscape "Ubik"). Apparently three of these are reworked with new instrumentation, but I didn't compare them to the originals so I can't elaborate. To these, they have added an alternate version of the Book Of Horizons UR track "Anthropomorphosis/Boxleitner," a brand new Ishraqiyan track that retains the pissy Muslim Jihad feel of the preceding Ishraqiyan material, and a 1998 Secret Chiefs 3 outtake that rises high with speedy note riffing but sinks low with minutes worth of scratchy microphone noises and tedium.

'Tis pity they didn't include "Halloween" or "Drive," as their omission automatically renders this collection an unsuitable replacement for the actual singles. But if you don't have a turntable and are too honest to download illegal music, this CD is a must-buy. UR brings the rock, The Electromagnetic Azoth experiments with soundtracks and audioscapes, and Ishraqiyun hijacks your airplane and flies it into a building.

Since I began this review with such depressing tales of woe, let me now tell of a few additional friends I know and people I've seen. Again, the names have been changed:

Jim Laakso III - Has a new girlfriend. Cut his hand open too, but that's secondary.

Aimee Terrebonne, Jr. - After a difficult first marriage, is now happily wed with two wonderful daughters

Myra and Randy Prindler - "Still married after more than 40 years," to quote Paul Simon (the lyrics sheet was wrong)

Henry The Cat - Is cute

I know my reviews suck to high hell this week. Off my dick; I'm going through a difficult period. My apartment is on the market, I'm signing a marital separation agreement in two days, and I'm as unemployed as a pile of dirt. I can provide all sorts of thoughts and theories about failed relationships (having read three related books in the past two months), but if it's musical insight you're after, go talk to Stephen "Charmed Life" Thomas "Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened To Me" Erle"Happy"wine "Whee!". Fat happy prick bastard cunt douche asshole.

(unless he wants to hire me, of course, in which case "Great awesome talented insightful music critic hero")

Reader Comments

I know things are looking bad, Prindle, and you feel very bad and self-conscious right now, but look at it this way: at least you're not Mel Gibson. Did you hear Mel Gibson ranting at the Russian girlfriend that he left his wife for and subsequently knocked up? Not only that but his dad's a Holocaust denier!!! So, I hope this either makes you laugh or at least makes you feel slightly better.

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For more adventures of Trey Spruance, please visit my Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Three Doctors and Faxed Head reviews located on the other side of this fairy cloud