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02.07.2015
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The album isn't being delivered by Secret Chiefs 3 proper, but rather one of their "satellite" iterations: Ishraqiyun. I thought I needed to order two albums instead of one (because the postage remained the same), so I added this one to the order of the latest SC3 release, not expecting it would add so much more to the previous albums, but it does.
Here the group  consists of Eyvind Kang on viola, Shahzad Ismaily on bass, Ches Smith on drums, Trey Spruance on piano, keyboards, saz, percussion and Rich Doucette on sarangi.
They told me already beforehand they were going to split their different approaches in different style games, different groups or different projects.
Unfortunately like this you miss a bit the conceptual context of some of the separate products, which gave a visual, material-bound surprise, like the so called Turkish single from Ur or the fake German Kraut single. I just wanted one CD, but because the postage was 22 dollars to send even one CD, so I added two more EP’s I didn't have yet. The first 7 tracks come from albums I already had, but these tracks are also not only most of my favourite tracks ; they are compiled into an even better and more accessible, new compilation.
It's a perfect mixture of middle eastern folklore music with some kind of metalguitar- effect touches, and some perfectly mixed breakbeats.
It is exactly small-or narrow-mindedness which perhaps is the only thing that can keep more from loving this music.
Some of the best players were introduced some melody sheets with 16 bars of music which they were asked to interpret (previous ones include Bar Kokhba Sextet, Koby Israelite,Marc Ribot and the Masada String Trio). What were very attractive were their inspirations from Italian movie scores (not only Morricone). Most tracks are exotic mixtures of Middle Eastern musical themes with improvisations of electric electronic, zither and guitar improvisations.
It's total effect is as if a UFO machine takes over control of the middle eastern-and-beyond heritage of music.


In this form we hear continuations with beer flowing in glass, and a few splashes of water, bizarre but beautiful harmonies with exploring notes on prepared guitar, which are built up in rhythmic pulses.
Often this is collage-like, and a bit confusing how these elements hang together outside the improvisational context ; it is a bit more difficult to take out the different contexts and inspirational fields, falling apart in concentrations. Everything is instrumentally played very powerfully, very correctly and with clear and fantastic contrasting effects, rhythmically and melodically interesting and with lots of tension. Trey Spruance is credited for the arrangements of John Zorn lyricism and rhythmical complexity.
It is all these sort of arrangements which are expressed here, for a fictive horror movie, having touches and elements of several of the composers (and rock band) they admire. One track (6) was clearly influenced by a filmic setting like some of the Italian 70s movies.
Like “the 3” a bit later, this is how I prefer to hear middle eastern mucic (into modern standards) ! At different times the rhythmical evolutions get a more ethnic-like format, while elsewhere electronic bass rhythms appear.
I don’t feel the fictive story becoming a new reality but the style exploration itself surely is an utterly convincing soundtrack.
I find this release with no doubt one of the best middle eastern rock items I know of.The CD has three recorded parts that fluently go from one part into the other. It has all the best of it, with a portion of Indian and Western music ideas, perfectly in blend, with respect to and for the best strength of the performance of the original tune.
While before, Secret Chief 3 switched worlds quickly as if showing different floors and layers from reality, now, more than ever before, they keep more comparable consistent arrangements together. The amount of effort that themusicians put into the concept is enormous (12 musicians of which more than half of the instruments are played and arranged by Trey Spruance). In some way they are interpreted in a Residents-alike, I-do-what-I-want-with-it versions, but, different to Residents, they didn’t replace it with much alternative seriousness of new ideas or took the material a bit light so that the original happy lightness of them are not replaced with humour but with dark cynicism, something which for me does not compensate enough musically for what they do with it.


I have made a complaint at the costume service, asking why they charge 22 euros extra for a package of less than 25 euros of value, but as expected they never responded.
Luckily for me, the album, as usual, is very good showing all the recognisable powerful arrangements of SC3. Difficult to figure out everything which is happening at the core, without listening very carefully, and without an in-depth attention. We have two tracks based upon a Middle Eastern theme, enriched with electric, heavy effects, good hammering drumming and certain small electronic sounds. It is also one the most accessible SC3 release and perhaps the best starter for them to date !
Then we have another Morricone Western reference, with for the first time a song to it, sung by former Mr. Also the to be following middle eastern tunes have a horrifying now or never effect, and a certain underlying tension, possibly of discontentness towards the most focused world's perspectives and tendencies. The arrangements of each of the tracks are very well composed with lots of changing of their instruments, different divided sections, and powerful orchestral elements (including flutes and bassoon).
This gets the illustration of a traditional Islamic figure of a devilish figure wrapped in fire and with knives (-forgot his name-). In times where different musical elements are often nothing but exploitation, this is a serious work of art. It's modern enough, and it is aggressive and refined enough to blow away the most artificial prejudgments and expectations from any critics. Bungle), Shazad Ismaily (Nels Cline, Barbez, Brian Eno, Air, Elysian Fields), William Winant (avant-garde percussionist, who cooperated with John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, James Tenney, Cecil Taylor, Steve Reich, Jean-Philippe Collard, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, Kronos String Quartet to Sonic Youth, Yo Yo Ma.



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