Here’s a real test of how long you’ve been reading mxdwn. If you’ve been with us the whole decade we’ve been in operation you’ll know that we’ve avidly covered Secret Chiefs 3 since the beginning of this magazine. What’s interesting to note, is that it’s been almost ten years since the band released the first piece in a three-part mega album (the Book of Truth), entitled Book of Horizons. That was quite literally one of the best albums of the last decade. Band mastermind Trey Spruance had long indicated that Book of Horizons‘ follow-up would be called Book of Souls and it would be an extension of the new splintering of the band into 7 sub-identities. However, years went by and details were scant as to just how close to being done the next piece of the project was. In the meantime, in between some short tours, the band released an excellent album comprised of entirely John Zorn collaborations called Xaphan: Book of Angels Vol. 9 and the first of the sub-identity band releases from Italian horror-themed Traditionalists, Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini. We even got a one-off collaboration between Secret Chiefs 3 and Mike Patton called “La Chanson De Jacky” (Faith No More fans will remember that Spruance also joined the band for a one-off performance of King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime in Chile).
We’re elated to reveal the news that Spruance’s long-gestating Book of Souls is now complete and scheduled for release, and what’s more, it has been divided into two full album releases, appropriately titled Folio A and Folio B. There isn’t a specific release date yet, but right now Spruance’s label site the Web of Mimicry lists the release for Book of Souls: Folio A for May and Book of Souls: Folio B for September. A statement on Web of Mimicry explains a “small army” of musicians were enlisted to perform these albums and lists Timba Harris, Ches Smith, Shahzad Ismaily, Anonymous 13, Danny Heifetz, William Winant, and live-band membrs Matt Lebofsky, Kenny Grohowski and Toby Driver as being some of the collaborators. The statement also explains, “While it’s true that the album represents the kind of titanic, almost Faustian undertaking that one would expect as being uniquely appropriate to Secret Chiefs 3, for all the pomp it’s easy to forget that everything having to do with the recording is D.I.Y. to the core.” Sign us up. We’re there.
Album cover, track listing and preview MP3’s are listed as forthcoming. In the meantime, the band has booked a short series of residency tour dates in celebration of Folio A in 6 major North American cities. These are special not-to-miss shows as, “These residiencies will involve multiple sets per night. The music of SC3 ‘Heptad’ bands FORMS, Ishraqiyun, UR, as well as other Secret Chiefs 3 material will be performed, including works arranged for John Zorn’s Masada.” 2013 just got a bit more exciting. We’ll update you here as more details are announced. Full statement from the band is below after the tour dates.
Spring 2013 Tour Dates
New York, NY
Fri May 17, 2013 @ Mercury Lounge – tickets
Sat May 18, 2013 @ Union Pool – tickets soon
Sun May 19, 2013 @ Union Pool – tickets soon
SECRET CHIEFS 3 announce the release of two full-length installments of their long awaited Book of Souls album, and two USA/Canada tours in support of them. The first [Book of Souls: Folio A] comes out in late May, and the second [Book of Souls: Folio B] comes out in September.
BOOK OF SOULS: FOLIO A (CD), RELEASED IN MAY
Listeners have come to expect a lot from Secret Chiefs 3, and for “Book of Souls,” second in the band’s mega-trilogy (first being “Book of Horizons,” 2004), they expect nothing less than a vertigo-inducing follow up. True to expectation, “Book of Souls: Folio A” is a full-length album densely-packed with musical skyscrapers. Over a decade in the making along with Folio B, Book of Souls is Secret Chiefs 3’s most elaborate work yet. Following the 7-band schemata laid out in Book of Horizons, both Folios of Book of Souls thoroughly establish the depth of SC3’s journey into otherwise lost musical possibilities. With productions based in studios in the SF Bay Area, NY, LA, Seattle, UK and France over the last 11 years, the band’s leader Trey Spruance enlisted a small army of musicians — or actually not so small, since the orchestral tasks demanded by the music seem effectively unlimited in number.
But familiar names in the SC3 canon form the backbone of the recording-band: Timba Harris, Ches Smith, Shahzad Ismaily, Anonymous 13, Danny Heifetz, William Winant, with live-band initiates Matt Lebofsky, Kenny Grohowski and Toby Driver adding extra life among the zillions of enlisted musical enablers.
On “Book of Souls: Folio A,” it is evident that Secret Chiefs 3 continues to operate in blissful ignorance of current musical fashions, remaining enchanted only by what can be unlocked in modern mediums by applying a specific recipe of pre-modern (often ancient) processes to them.
While it’s true that the album represents the kind of titanic, almost Faustian undertaking that one would expect as being uniquely appropriate to Secret Chiefs 3, for all the pomp it’s easy to forget that everything having to do with the recording is D.I.Y. to the core. “Book of Souls: Folio A” is a fully organic production. Everything is honed with love in one of the last hermetically-sealed laboratories. Some may snort at the notion that there even could exist such a cauldron of limitless fascination extending so rigorously beyond the time/space boundaries of modern occidental groupthink; a place in-between, suspended, where the simplest motifs have the freedom either to radiate upward into geometric complexities that are beyond description, or to refine downward to a state of simple musical essence. But it’s the usual thing at the SC3 lab.
This press-release is offered as a summons to the impartial jury of all earthly ears. All snorts and scoffs will be answered with a supra-sensory choir. Coming in May and September.