Secret Chiefs 3 (Trey Spruance from Mr. Bungle) have released two more singles in anticipation of their long awaited album Book of Souls and if these songs indicate anything it’s that Trey’s compositional, producing and arranging skills are being stretched as he records the new album. Secret Chiefs 3 still sound the same but that’s not a bad thing when your music has always defined the boundaries and possibilities of genre.
La Chanson de Jacky 7” by Secret Chiefs 3 (Traditionalists) (2011)
Though similar to both the Scott Walker version and the Original Jaques Brel version, La Chanson de Jacky as interpreted by Secret Chiefs 3 is a great treat for those that enjoy elaborate orchestration, those who like The Traditionalists strange mix of film composers (Ernest Gold, Morricone, Goblin, Elfman) and in this case traditional French music, the source of the music.
But especially if you love Mike Patton.
Yes, this single is notable because Patton collaborates with Spruance for the first time since 1999, making all Mr. Bungle nerds cream in anticipation of a Reunion. No dice yet, keep creaming though.
It’s also notable because Secret Chiefs 3’s music is usually instrumental and Patton does a great job in crooning his way through, imitating Scott Walker. Though I don’t speak French I’ve read that Patton’s French is a bit sloppy, but since I’m a complete ignorant there I enjoy his theatrics.
I will say that I didn’t enjoy the song fully the first time that I heard it. Having heard the Walker version beforehand it was a bit too similar for me to take too seriously at first, but I did notice that the third verse goes into French, which Walker’s doesn’t do and ties this new version with the original Brel version. Changes like those and Spruance’s decisions in scoring eventually pull you in.
It’s an amazing song so you can’t help but enjoy it, so well constructed and arranged by Spruance that by the time you get to Patton’s emotional and invested delivery (not phoned in, as he does sometimes) you’re singing along with the chorus. Great song, hear the originals too. All great.
In the end, though, the show goes to Spruance and his keen sense of instrumentation, really enjoyable.
The Western Exile is a more Morricone like version of Exile from their 2004 Album Book of Horizons (their Masterpiece thus far in my opinion) A Melvins/ZZ Top rhythm pounds through the song and the strange mood and style changes keep it from being too similar from the original. I prefer the original version, but as a curiosity and b-side it’s a great companion to Jacky
Saptarshi 7”– by Secret Chiefs 3 (Ishraqiyun) (2010)
Ishraqiyun is my favorite of the 7 satellite bands inside Secret Chiefs 3. Their brand of Electric Arabic/Eastern with a dash of rock has always intrigued me. Not only because of its alien nature but because it truly transports me to a different world, one I have invented in my head and would like to live in. Though I described it as Eastern and Arabic, Spruance has said in interviews that to those cultures the songs would sound just as strange because he didn’t really base his music on theirs, he just incorporated their concepts of scales and structure.
Just like Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3 jumps wildly among genres. But Ishraqiyum is a bit more subtle in the way they incorporate various influences. Here, along with the Electro Indian structure, there are moments of Giallo that become strange Danny Elfman interludes, mixed with Heavy Metal barrages that become an jazz/Arabic solo.
But that’s getting too technical. Lets just say if David Lynch and Dario Argento did a movie this is the guy they would hire to score it.
Which takes us to Radar, an Electronic re interpretation by FORMS of Bernard Herman’s theme of the Day the Earth Stood Still. More Elfman sounding than the A side, with crazy changes between each bar daring you to get lost but the constant beat and repetition keep you inside. A bit less enjoyable than Sptarshi, I wished the song went somewhere else before it ended.
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