mimicry records

Secret Chiefs 3 photo by Olivia Oyama

Bio

"...an outside-the-box journey into sights and sounds from far and deep into the imagination, and a fascinating antidote to the often stultifying dearth of vision and ambition in so much rock music today."

— Daniel Lukes, Lollipop
 

"...Secret Chiefs 3 have existed in various incarnations over the course of the past eight years, and have served as the funnel for Spruance's remarkably far-flung studies of the hermetic mysteries and musical traditions of unknown and underappreciated subgenres. Album titles like Grand Constitution and Bylaws and Book M hint at the music's vaguely metaphysical bent. Over three years in the making, Book of Horizons is Secret Chiefs' most expansive and coherent statement, an alchemical fusion of Morricone-esque cinematic grandeur, midnight surf guitar, traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and time signatures, demonic death metal, and electronic deviance that yields a work of undeniable force."

Jonathan Zwickel, Pitchfork
 

"Cast the clear light of alchemical truth through the graphically enhanced occult fog, and you'll find an album fluffed full of magick, mystery, and densely orchestrated mosque-rocking beats."

Richard Gehr, Village Voice

 

mimicry releases

secret chiefs 3 on facebook.

dates

Future performances by this artist:

date venue location details
 Sep 02, 2014 Kuudes Linja Helsinki, Finland
 Sep 06, 2014 Barby Tel Aviv, Israel
 Sep 07, 2014 Petit Bain Paris, FR ISHRAQIYUN / FORMS / TRADITIONALISTS
 Sep 08, 2014 Petit Bain Paris, FR XAPHAN / UR
 Sep 09, 2014 Corsica Studios London, UK
 Sep 10, 2014 Corsica Studios London, UK
 Sep 11, 2014 Corsica Studios London, UK
For other artists, see the Calendar.

mimicry releases

Secret Chiefs 3: Traditionalists
La Chanson de Jacky / The Western Exile
(WoM 042) - 2012

Satellite Supersonic, Vol. 1

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In 1965 Jacques Brel wrote and recorded a fiery three verse chanson exploding with the anxiety, bravado and panic faced by someone stretched to a midpoint  across the abyss -- to find oneself suspended between mediocrity and genius, villainy and heroism, doom and eternity, etc. In 1967 the nearly equally inimitable Scott Walker brilliantly re-interpreted Brel's Chanson in English, to equal parts controversy and acclaim in the Anglosphere. In 2012, both versions of the tune have collided in an Anglo-Franco alliance, revealing perhaps an ever-implicit third dimension. It's a stunt simultaneously ill-advised and absolutely necessary for a band like Secret Chiefs 3: Traditionalists to undertake -- and one that could only be pulled off with someone uniquely qualified to take command of the vocals. Who other than the maestro Mike Patton, in this day and age, to do justice (and then some) without insult to such a preposterously Spartan legacy?

Read more about this release in our online store.

 

Secret Chiefs 3: Traditionalists
Ishraqiyun Saptarshi / FORMS Radar
(WoM 040) - 2012

Satellite Supersonic, Vol. 1

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Side A - 45 RPM, Ishraqiyun
"Saptarshi"

Side B - 45 RPM, FORMS
"Radar"

Read more about this release in our online store.

 

Satellite Supersonic, Vol. 1
(WoM 039) - 2009

Satellite Supersonic, Vol. 1

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With their long-awaited album Book of Souls due to hit the shelves this fall, Secret Chiefs 3 have chosen this moment to bring the digital world up to date on some of the clandestine (i.e. vinyl-only) activities of the SC3 "satellite bands." In 2007, a string of 7-inch records by these groups were all snatched up by fans within just over a month, leaving many potential listeners feeling a bit left out. Web of Mimicry is pleased to announce that eight tracks from UR, Ishraqiyun and Electromagnetic Azoth have made it on to Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1, and five of them are from those coveted 7-inch records!

In true Secret Chiefs 3 fashion, these tracks were not just rehashed "as is" from their 2007 vinyl masters and hastily transferred to bits and bytes. Rather, each track was given a full studio work-over in early 2010 for this CD. The band, which is about to tour Eastern Europe, Turkey and Israel, originally intended this as a low-key tour release, but such new life was breathed into the tunes in the process of remixing them (some of them even having new and expanded arrangements) that the whole project deserved to be presented as something more substantial.

To that end, Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1 really takes off when Secret Chiefs 3 adds a brand new, previously unreleased track to the Ishraqiyun repertoire. Yep, a new one. A killer. Also, an old UR favorite from Book of Horizons (2004) abandons the Secret Chiefs 3 nest completely, in order to roost in a more UR-specific "proto-mix." No one can say whether this song jumped forward 6 years or back 26... or maybe this is the origi- nal, and the version released in 2004 is an impenetrable hyper-dimension- al layer-cake shakily built upon the more solid foundations heard here.

For good measure, one more song (this time a true über-rarity of mysterious origin from 1998) completes Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1—a bonus track that is a nostalgic foretaste of ancient things that haven't happened yet. That's the speed of it. Seasoned SC3 listeners are accustomed to fast-moving objects in space in the form of satellite bands warping time and tonality along the impossible curvatures of the mother-band's cosmic-geometrical schemata. And they sit at the center of that universe along with the band, watching it all unfold. But now, with Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1, every listener with a CD player gets a palpable, close-up and intimate view from inside three of the wandering stars in the twinkling SC3 sky.

Musicians include Ches Smith, Shahzad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang, Matt Chamberlain, Danny Heifetz, Trey Spruance, and many others.

Album preview: [mp3]

  1. UR - Circumambulation
  2. ISHRAQIYUN - Balance of the 19
  3. ELECTROMAGNETIC AZOTH - Ubik
  4. UR - Kulturvultur
  5. ISHRAQIYUN - Balthassar : Melchior : Kaspar
  6. ELECTROMAGNETIC AZOTH - The Left Hand of Nothingness
  7. UR - Anthropomorphisis : Boxleitner
  8. ?

 

Secret Chiefs 3: Traditionalists
Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini
(WoM 028) - 2009

Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini

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From out of nowhere Secret Chiefs 3 (operating here as Traditionalists, one of the seven ‘satellite bands’ introduced on Secret Chiefs 3’s album Book of Horizons) presents an elaborate “colonna sonora paranoica” — a paranioac film soundtrack. The film is imagined, but the horror is real. This entire project, as you might expect from this band, is a spiralling allegory that extends itself well-beyond its starting-point cliché as a “soundtrack for a non-existent film.” But that’s always been one of those potentially good clichés, in theory anyway. Pursuant to that potential, this particular work remains singularly, decidedly faithful to its sworn genre, the Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack.

At this point, it’s fair to assume we can take the dizzying conceptual maelstrom that comes with anything SC3-related as a “given,” right?
Alright, so we won’t go into that here.

But a word on the strictly musical side of things is warranted. The first thing to note is that Giallo cinema music has the distinction of having been graced by nearly all the great masters of Italian film music in general: Bruna Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani, Ennio Morricone, Goblin, Pierro Piccioni etc. And though this area of “B cinema” certainly has its appreciators, one still-underplayed element is that when considering the music, Giallo’s harmonic language was developed by brilliant people who, by current musical and aesthetic standards, set the bar very high. For any of us wannabes to share in the magic of this lost artform, we have to bring a bit more more to the table than some vintage amps & keyboards and vague undeveloped musical ideas based only in hipster aesthetics. Because if you ignore the deeper intricacies of the music theory at work, the orchestration, the arrangement, etc., you’re really only asking to make an ass of yourself (which is likely anyway no matter what you do). But the usual thing is to sample stuff or simply borrow themes from the masters and to then repackage them in a new “updated” context. Well, in a climate like that we should emphasize that Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini is quite simply an album of original compositions. The process should be likened to when someone is learning another language and begins to have dreams in that language. It’s the same process in any style of music, really. So to state it plainly, these are original compositions that were dreamt into being in the harmonic language of the Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack. It’s that simple. The point is not to be strictly period-specific, or culturally-specific, but to be psychically specific — caring first and foremost about how to convey things that will affect the psychic state of the listener in the intended way. After all, the point of dreaming in this particular language, with all its sophistication, elegance and beauty, is to go that much more deeply into the territory of nightmare... and um, let’s just say SC3 feel it’s necessary to pursue this particular range of the human experience at this moment.

The album itself is a full orchestral score that fully capitalizes on SC3 stock of musical manpower (Trey Spruance, Ches Smith, Timb Harris, Shahzad Ismaily, William Winant, et al.) and adds to that a broad cast of A-list hired musicians (among them Laurie Goldstein and Hans Teuber). The material runs the gamut; dissonant violent strings receding to beautiful textures with flute and female vocals through echoplex; analog synthesizers, harpsichords and celestas over a tight ’70s-style rock band rhythm section; crazed psychedelic freakouts with major payoffs; church organs granting repose, until tape treatments and a chorus of possessed shrieking voices force the listener to reconsider his position on the existence of Evil... If you can imagine all that produced to the standard found on any other Secret Chiefs 3 release, you’ve pretty much got the idea here.

The album was mixed analog to 1/2 inch tape. LP comes in 180 gram vinyl. CD is a mock gatefold LP, with a printed sleeve. Pure win.

Album preview: [mp3]

  1. Faith’s Broken Mirror
  2. Sophia’s Theme
  3. What’s Wrong with Cytherea?
  4. Mourning In Ekstasis
  5. He Hates Us
  6. Psychism 1: Cytherea’s Possession
  7. Love Spell
  8. Agenda 21
  9. Subcutaneous Solution
  10. Abyss of Psychic Enchantments
  11. Subdermal Sequence (Nano-Correction)
  12. RFID Slaverider
  13. Dionysian Dithyramb (Eros-seed of the Egregore)
  14. Zombievision
  15. Perfectly Reasonable
  16. Psychism 2: Fear is the Great Teacher
  17. Abolish Believers by Abolishing Belief
  18. Funeral for What Might Have Been (Sophia’s Theme)
  19. Codex Alimentarius
  20. Putting Forth the Hand to Take
  21. Psychism 3: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind
  22. Hypnotopia (Obey your Passion)
  23. Nano-correction / Human Migrations / Faith Realizes
  24. Chapel by the Sea (a Heart That is Broken and Humbled...)
  25. The Strength to Sever
  26. Baby Hedone (Harvest of the Egregore)
  27. Zombievision 2012
  28. The Great Die Off (He Mocks Us All)
  29. Cytherea’s Awakening / Martyrdom at Romiou Point / Return to the Foam
  30. To Love God is Sweeter than Life (Sophia’s Theme)

 

Live at the Great American Music Hall DVD
(WoM 036) - 2009

Live DVD

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Live at the Great American Music Hall captures Secret Chiefs 3 in concert with what many consider to be the best of their many line-ups in 14 years of playing.

Shot in 2007 at one of the band's favorite haunts, in San Francisco, this DVD does justice to a group whose live energy usually exceeds the recorded medium. Renowned for their ultra-elaborate CD productions, Secret Chiefs 3 has also garnered a reputation for the power and immediacy of their live shows. Their fanbase has swelled in recent years and grown accustomed to this live incarnation (the Secret Chiefs 3 bootleg scene is thriving), and they demand an official release! Not just some audience-hand-cam and stereo-mic-job thing, this DVD boasts a pro six-camera shoot with live sound mixed by Billy Anderson, with the multi-channel outs mixed for DVD by Trey Spruance and Randall Dunn (producer of Earth, SUNNO))), Kinski, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc). And it comes with a really nice six-panel gatefold digi-pack with original artwork. At the show, Secret Chiefs 3 performs a set of both familiar and as-yet-unreleased music. The line-up includes Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu, Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog), Shahzad Ismaili (who also plays with Graham Haynes, Laurie Anderson, and Tom Waits), Timb Harris (Estradasphere), Rich Doucette, Peijman Kouretchian, and Jai Young Kim.

Live at the Great American Music Hall DVD also includes an award-winning and seriously dimensionally altered 80-minute stop-motion animation feature film directed by Tawd Dorenfeld that uses Secret Chiefs 3's live show as a soundtrack.
 

Book of Horizons
(WoM 014) - 2004

Book of Horizons

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The epic release boasts years of work, orchestral-scale compositions, huge laborious production with intricate counterpoint as well as beautiful, simple monophonic texturings, tons and tons of instruments from all over the world, and the corresponding musicians who go with them...

What does this all end up sounding like? You will hear a kick-ass surf band playing in Arabic/Persian tunings, and then switch over to a wall of Penderecki-style orchestral chord clusters accompanied by AC/DC. Then, perhaps the traditional sounding, pseudo-folk Turk/Central Asian imaginal band will hit center stage with Dhol, Saz, Rabab, Esraj and rock drums and start whacking out to the original, catchy songs that no one knows or cares are in 19/16 time. This might be followed by a totally pummeling, nightmarish, not-kidding one bit blast-beat Death Metal band that employs Boulez-ish atonal serialism, played in dastgah tunings, which of course will naturally segue into a band that specializes in Hindi Film Music from the second Golden Era... you get the picture. We're scratching the surface here, not exaggerating.  And again, it’s no joke.

  1. FORMS / The End Times [mp3]
  2. Ishraqiyun / The 4 (Great Ishraqi Sun)
  3. Traditionalists / The Indestructible Drop
  4. Holy Vehm / Exterminating Angel
  5. FORMS / The Owl in Daylight
  6. Traditionalists / The Exile [mp3]
  7. The Electromagnetic Azoth / On the Wings of the Haoma
  8. UR / Book T: Exodus
  9. Holy Vehm / Hypostasis of the Archons
  10. Traditionalists / The Electrotheonic Grail Dove
  11. Ishraqiyun / The 3
  12. The Electromagnetic Azoth / DJ Revisionist [mp3]
  13. UR / Anthropomorphosis: Boxleitner
  14. FORMS / Welcome to the Theatron Animatronique

 

Book M
(WoM 006) - 2001

Book M

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"From what was originally a trio, this third studio release from Secret Chiefs 3 employs some of the most adventurous arrangements this year. Book M is suffused with oddly cinematic sounds that frustrate all preconcieved notions of what 'contemporary' music should sound like - for instance, no lyrics. The whole frontman idolatry cult could not possibly exist here. The group has been transmuted: base lead vocals into golden instrumentation. Driving, disjointed breakbeats, ripping melodic sitar/guitar, traditional middle-eastern folk music gone metal, drifting electronic miasma, violin/cello/viola that lend a graceful cohesiveness. If this band were any heavier, California would be underwater. All at once commanding and impossible to categorize."
- Kris Thor, hE@D magazine

  1. Knights of Damcar
  2. Hagia Sophia
  3. Vajra
  4. Ship of Fools (Stole of Exile)
  5. Horsemen of the Invisible [mp3]
  6. Combat for the Angel [mp3]
  7. Zulfiqar III [mp3]
  8. Siege Perilous
  9. Dolorous Stroke
  10. Blaze of the Grail
  11. Lapsit Exillis
  12. Lapis Baitulous
  13. Safina [mp3]

The musicians (Details in the liner notes) :
Fatima - santur
Timb Harris - violin, viola
Danny Heifetz - drums, dumbek, riq, zils, zil stick
Eyvind Kang - violin
Bär McKinnon - saxophone
Shamou - darbuka, riq
Jason Schimmell - cumbus mandolin, acoustic guitar
Tim Smolens - bass, contrabass, cello
Trey Spruance - guitars (acoustic, electric, microtonal,12-string), cumbus baglama, electric sitar, saz, tar, dumbek, zither, keyboards, electric piano, organs, bass, percussion, trumpet, programming, electro, sampler
William Winant - concert toms, frame drum, cymbals, bass drum, zil stick, ankle bells


Eyes of Flesh, Eyes of Flame
(WoM 002) - 1998

Eyes of Flesh

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Recorded live at their performance at Slims in San Francisco on August 18, 1998, this CD features the 1998 touring incarnation of Secret Chiefs 3, Trey Spruance, Danny Heifetz, Eyvind Kang, Bär McKinnon, Phil Franklin, and John Wayne Law.

  1. Adept Chamber of the Magian Tavern,
    Inn Of Three Doors,
    Theme from 23d Nade,
    Inn of Three Doors,
    1/41/41/41/41/4,
    Combat for the Angel,
    Theory of the Supreme Ones,
    Mary of Magdalen
  2. Renunciation
  3. Jabalqa/Jabarsa
  4. Rose Garden of the Mystery
  5. Assassin's Blade
  6. Zulfikar
  7. Ciocarlia

 

Second Grand Constitution and Bylaws: Hurqalya
(WoM 004) - 1998

Second Grand Constitution

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"...Like its predecessor, the music is a combination of Ennio Morricone movie scores, world music, experimental noise-rock, and heavy metal. But this musical mix is used in an extremely unorthodox and unpredictable way... Due to the all-encompassing vision of Second Grand Constitution, it becomes obvious that a lot of work was put into it, and the end result is one of 1998's most rewarding, original, and ambitious recordings."
- Greg Plato, All Music Guide

  1. The Rose Garden of Mystery [mp3]
  2. Book T: Waves of Blood
  3. Book T: Broken Glass Hearse
  4. Renunciation [mp3]
  5. Jãbalqã [mp3]
  6. Book T: Orbital Ballroom in the Hall of Resurrection [mp3]
  7. Mera Pyar Shalimar
  8. Zulfikar II (bonus track)
  9. Jãbarsã
  10. Beyond the Mountain Qaf
  11. Hurqalya

First Grand Constitution and Bylaws
(WoM 003) - 1996

First Grand Constitution

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"Music for those weary of the mainstream."
- Greg Plato, All Music Guide

  1. Ana'l Raqq
  2. Adept Chamber of the Magian Tavern – Altar to the Master Chief
  3. Inn of 3 Doors
  4. Breeze of Dawn, Death's Angel
  5. Assassin's Blade
  6. Bare-faced Bazi
  7. Crossroads Through Crosshairs
  8. borderland
  9. borderland
  10. Killing of Kings
  11. Celestial Ship of the Corsairs
  12. Emir of the Bees (bonus track)
  13. Pointed and Weighty Arguments
  14. Zulkifar
  15. The Qa'im Deliberates
  16. Drunk at the Gates
  17. Resurrection Day Sountrack: Hot Pursuit in Eagles' Nest
  18. From Night the Morning Draught of Wine
  19. Crosswinds
  20. borderland
  21. White As They Come

Zulfikar II & Zulfikar III
(WoM 001) - sold out
 

"This is an amazing piece of work. Each side is a mix of Zulkifar from 1996's "First Grand Constitution and Bylaws" record. The first mix is very reminiscent of Murray Head's "One Night in Bankok" from Chess. It is full of nice eastern melodies over smooth synth beats not unlike those which backed Cameo's smash "Word" up. The flipside features a more heavily techno interpretation of the track. the beats are strong enough to make them welcome at just about any club. this slap of red vinyl is well worth picking up..."
– Review, The Fritz magazine


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