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: Timb 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 DIY 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.
MAY RESIDENCY TOUR – more details here
Two USA/Canada tours are happening in 2013 (May and October), one in support of each Book of Souls release. The first has already been booked: Secret Chiefs 3 will play multiple-night ‘residencies’ in select USA/Canada cities in May, in support of “Book of Souls: Folio A”. 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. Check listings soon to see which configurations SC3 will be in on which night.
New York, NY
Fri May 17, 2013 @ Mercury Lounge – tickets
Sat May 18, 2013 @ Union Pool
Sun May 19, 2013 @ Union Pool
For a band that has been busy playing over 300 shows in over 30 countries in the last few years, one could imagine how well-seasoned a unit it might’ve become. And yes, the lineup has stabilized over the last few tours into the following elite team, who can handle everything and then some for both tours in 2013:
Trey Spruance, Timb Harris, Matt Lebofsky, Toby Driver, Kenny Grohowski
After a brief pause to digest Folio A, listeners will hear the second installment, Book of Souls: Folio B in September. Intimately thematically-intertwined with the previously-released Folio, Book of Souls: Folio B has more Autumnal sheen. Darker, in some ways more ballistic, but also intoxicated with Beauty and high on diabolical humours, Book of Souls: Folio B remains unquestionably secure at SC3’s well-established fulcrum between rationalistic chaos and anarchistic elegance.
* NOTE A deluxe vinyl edition of the complete Book of Souls corpus, with expanded artwork and comprehensive conceptual material will be released in October.
** artwork and preview mp3s forthcoming
PHOTOS FROM THE SHOW AT THE BOTTOM
I’ve been a fan of Mr Bungle/Fantômas/John Zorn collaborative bass player Trevor Dunn for a while. When I get a chance to see him, especially within biking distance, I go. From Trevor Dunn’s website, the “Double Solo” tour was noted as a “West Coast spit-roasting agenda. I’ll be playing a 30 min solo bass piece & Travis [Laplante] will play a set for solo tenor saxophone.” Ah, a night of avant-garde jazz… yum!
Ryan A. Miller from Portland was up first… he played about 30-40 minutes on solo acoustic guitar. A lot of loops, noises, and a little bit of what might seem like “futzing around,” but I dug it. There were definitely some odd parts, but I definitely thought his set was more interesting than not. You could tell he had skills, just couldn’t tell how they were going to evolve and manifest. Update 2/8/12: Ryan’s band (U SCO) was the opener for the Secret Chiefs 3 show in Portland the very next week. U SCO is a wicked, rad schizophrenic proggy, jazzy rock trio. Excellent stuff!
Travis Laplante took his spot on the floor just off stage and gave us an initial onslaught of loud, raucous alto sax. His first piece reminded me of Peter Evans solo trumpet show from 2008. Ballistic, unfocused melodically, intense… what avant-garde jazz is meant to be. His second piece was gentler and more melodic at first. It was contained but not necessarily restrained before he finally let loose at the end. His third and final piece was a dronier delight.
Trevor Dunn played last and gave us the 30-minute piece that he’s tentatively calling “The Pentagram.” He dedicated it to Pisces. It definitely had a “composed” feel to it (later confirmed with Trevor), but it was open and free enough to let him explore where it could go. He plucked, he scraped, he bowed, he played below the bridge, he played with clothespins on the strings. To sum it up in a word: fascinating. You’ve gotta love it when he makes a few of his other bands (Mr Bungle/Fantômas) seem “too mainstream.”
Update 2/7/12: Check out this East Bay Express write-up of the Oakland show by Rachel Swan… waaaaaay better write-up (she’s a journalist and rightfully gets paid for it). Gives you a better feel for the Dunn piece as a whole.
Trevor and Travis are wrapping up this tour this coming weekend… tonight in San Francisco, then Friday in Oakland, Saturday in Los Angeles and Sunday in Santa Cruz. Check his Tour Page for more info.
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Trevor Dunn’s Site (bass)
- Travis Laplante’s Site (sax)
- Ryan A. Miller’s Site (guitar)
- My Other Trevor Dunn-Related Reviews~
- Wandering Goat’s Site / Facebook / Twitter
Next show for me… Thee Silver Mt. Zion (splinter group from Godspeed You! Black Emperor) at Mississippi Studios on 2/4.
TREVOR DUNN & TRAVIS LAPLANTE PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution
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