Secret Chiefs 3

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Secret Chiefs 3
Secret Chiefs 3, New York, 2009; 05.jpg
Secret Chiefs 3 performing in New York, 2009
Background information
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Avant-garde
Years active 1995–present
Labels Mimicry, Amarillo
Associated acts Mr. Bungle
Faith No More
Website Official Site
Members See "Band members"

Secret Chiefs 3 (or SC3) is an instrumental rock group led by guitarist/composer Trey Spruance (formerly of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More). Their studio recordings and tours have featured different line-ups, as the group performs a wide range of musical styles including surf rock, Persian, Arab, Indian, death metal, film music, electronic music, and various others.

The band's name was inspired by the "Secret Chiefs" said to inspire and guide various esoteric and mystical groups, and is a reflection of Spruance's interest in such philosophies.

Satellite bands[edit]

In 2007, it was announced Secret Chiefs 3 has always been a general name for seven different bands, each representing a different aspect of Spruance's musical and philosophical interests.[1] The seven bands are The Electromagnetic Azoth, UR, Ishraqiyun, Traditionalists, Holy Vehm, FORMS,[2] and NT Fan[citation needed].

The albums Book of Horizons (2004) and Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1 (2010) were conceived as compilation albums featuring the satellite bands under their own names. All bands have appeared on at least one of these albums. Some satellite bands have also released records on their own. So far, five of the satellite bands have had tracks featured across a series of six 7" singles and Traditionalists have delivered a full-length album.

Trey Spruance performing in 2009

Electromagnetic Azoth[edit]

The Electromagnetic Azoth specialize in electroacoustic music.[3] Spruance has referred to them as the center of the Secret Chiefs 3 because they often employ sound collages to combine motifs associated with the other satellite bands.[4] Material released under their name can be found on the albums Book of Horizons and Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1.[5]


UR has released two EPs — Kulturvultur / Drive and Circumambulation / Labyrinth of Light — and a split EP with The Electromagnetic Azoth titled The Left Hand of Nothingness / Personnae: Halloween. Spruance describes the band's music as "suprasensory surf";[1] the band's musical style combines surf rock with Persian, Arabic and Indian musical elements. UR has also covered movie themes such as "Halloween" and "Exodus".

Fans have speculated that all songs by Secret Chiefs 3 bearing the "Book T" prefix (for instance, on Second Grand Constitution and Bylaws) are the work of UR, "Book T: The Exodus" being the only title confirmed so far. All of the Book T songs contain elements of surf rock, thus fitting Spruance's description of the band.


Ishraqiyun are a seven-piece band with an instrumentation including dhol, saz, rabab, esraj and drums.[2] Their music has been described as an "acultural, neo-Pythagorean enterprise into heavy electro-folk" borrowing heavily from Turkish and Central Asian music. The band stands out due to their frequent use of complex time signatures.[2] So far, Ishraqiyun have released material the Book of Horizons and Satellite Supersonic albums, as well as a split 7" single with Electromagnetic Azoth, Balance of the 19 / Ubik.


According to Mimicry Records the Traditionalists are "decidedly walking in the footprints of the Great Masters of cinema music". So far, material by the Traditionalists can be found on Book of Horizons as well as on the album Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini (2009) and the 7" single La Chanson de Jacky / The Western Exile (2012), which have both been released under their name. Le Mani Destre is a score to an imaginary giallo horror film, inspired by the work of several Italian film composers, such as Ennio Morricone or Goblin. "La Chanson de Jacky" was originally composed by Jacques Brel in 1965 and, in its Traditionalists version, features vocals by Mike Patton. "The Western Exile" finally is a rearrangement of the song "The Exile" found on Book of Horizons.

Holy Vehm[edit]

Mimicry describes Holy Vehm as an "ultra-death metal grind band". The band features John Merryman of Cephalic Carnage on drums, Jesse Quattro, Jessica Kinney, and Unhuman on vocals, and Trey Spruance (credited as "The Enemy") on bass, guitar and sampling.[6] According to Spruance, the band's music "employs Boulez-ish atonal serialism, played in dastgah tunings".[2] So far Holy Vehm have only released two songs on Book of Horizons but Spruance announced in a 2008 interview that he plans to release a full-length Holy Vehm album for The End Records.[7]


The music of FORMS has been likened to funeral marches and ballads.[3] Apart from their material on Book of Horizons, FORMS have released the song "Radar" on a split EP with Ishraqiyun. The song reinterprets a theme from the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, originally composed by Bernard Herrmann.

Secret Chiefs 3 performing in 2009


SC3's music, album artwork, liner notes, and lyrics feature theological and philosophical themes influenced by Henry Corbin, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, Aryeh Kaplan, Julius Evola, René Guénon, Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson, Seraphim Rose, and many others.

Band members[edit]

Spruance formed the band in the mid-1990s with fellow Mr. Bungle members Trevor Dunn on bass and Danny Heifetz on drums. Some of the many musicians who have since recorded or toured with SC3 include violinist Eyvind Kang, percussionist William Winant, drummer Ches Smith, bassist Shahzad Ismaily, former Mr. Bungle member Clinton "Bär" McKinnon, and Estradasphere members Timb Harris, Jason Schimmel, and Tim Smolens. Musicians tend to float in and out of SC3, so the concept of "current" and "former" members isn't entirely applicable.

Below is a list of past and present members, guests and collaborators:[5][6][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


This is a list of all releases by SC3 and the satellite bands. The column "artist" states under what name the recording is released, not who is credited with the individual songs. Some releases, like the album Book of Horizons, are noteworthy in this regard because they are released under the name Secret Chiefs 3, but the tracks they contain are each credited to a satellite band, giving the release the appearance of a compilation album.

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Artist Notes
1996 First Grand Constitution and Bylaws Secret Chiefs 3
1998 Second Grand Constitution and Bylaws: Hurqalya
  • Labels: Amarillo (1998), Mimicry (2000)
Secret Chiefs 3
2001 Book M
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3
2004 Book of Horizons
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 First part of the Book of Truth trilogy[16]

Individual tracks are credited to the satellite bands

2007 Path of Most Resistance
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 Retrospective and rarities album
2008 Xaphan: Book of Angels Volume 9 Secret Chiefs 3 Arrangements from John Zorn's second Masada songbook[17]
2009 Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini
  • Label: Mimicry
2010 Satellite Supersonic Vol. 1
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 Individual tracks are credited to the satellite bands
2013 Book of Souls, Folio A
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 Second part of the Book of Truth trilogy.

Some individual tracks are credited to the satellite bands.

Live album and DVD[edit]

Year Title Artist Notes
1999 Eyes of Flesh, Eyes of Flame
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 Recording of a live performance at Slims in San Francisco on August 18, 1998
2009 Live at the Great American Music Hall
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3 Recording of a live performance at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on June 3, 2007

Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Title Artist(s) Notes
1995 The Legendary Paper Project Secret Chiefs 3 / Mr. Bungle Split 7" promo including Mr. Bungle's "Platypus"

Packaged with US vinyl copies of Mr. Bungle's Disco Volante LP

1998 The Theatrum of Suprasensory Universes Vol. 1
  • Label: Amarillo
Secret Chiefs 3 Live EP with material from Australia tour
1998 Zulfikar II/Zulfikar III
  • Label: Mimicry
Secret Chiefs 3
2007 The Left Hand of Nothingness / Personnae: Halloween
  • Label: Mimicry
The Electromagnetic Azoth / UR
2007 Balance of the 19 / Ubik
  • Label: Mimicry
Ishraqiyun / The Electromagnetic Azoth
2007 Kulturvultur / Drive
  • Label: Mimicry
2007 Circumambulation / Labyrinth of Light
  • Label: Mimicry
2011 Saptarshi / Radar
  • Label: Mimicry
Ishraqiyun / FORMS
2012 La Chanson de Jacky / The Western Exile
  • Label: Mimicry
2014 Medium Aevum / Stars and Stripes Forever
  • Label: Mimicry
UR / FORMS Mighty Theatron Animatronique
2014 Apocryphon of Jupiter / Danse Macabre
  • Label: Mimicry
FORMS Mighty Wurlitzer

Planned releases[edit]

Title Artist Notes
TBA Secret Chiefs 3 Book of Balance, the Third part of the Book of Truth trilogy[16]


  1. ^ a b Mullen, Jawsh (March 1, 2007). "The Secret Chiefs 3". Denver Westword Music. Denver Westword. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Secret Chiefs 3". Mimicry Records Label Desk. Web of Mimicry. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b York, William. "Book of Horizons". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ Murphy, Tom (January 24, 2012). "Trey Spruance of Secret Chiefs 3: "I started studying the musical systems of antiquity to try to understand what made them tick"". Denver Westword Music. Denver Westword. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Secret Chiefs 3 – Satellite Supersonic Vol 1". Discogs. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Secret Chiefs 3 – Book Of Truth I - Book Of Horizons". Discogs. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Episode 03 - Interview with Trey Spruance Pt. 2". Sittingnow Podcast. Right Where You Are Sitting Now. May 7, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 – First Grand Constitution And Bylaws". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 – Second Grand Constitution And Bylaws: Hurqalya". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 - Eyes Of Flesh Eyes Of Flame". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 – Book M". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 – Path Of Most Resistance". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 Plays John Zorn – Xaphan: Book Of Angels Volume 9". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 : Traditionalists – Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini - The Severed Right Hands Of The Last Men". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 - Live At The Great American Music Hall 2007 +++ Aylaqruh:hurqalyA". Discogs. Retrieved July 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Schimmel, Jason. "Discography". Jason Schimmel: Composer / Guitarist. Jason Schimmel. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Secret Chiefs 3 : Xaphan: Book of Angels Volume 9". Tzadik Archival Series. Tzadik. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Secret Chiefs 3 at Wikimedia Commons

Free live recordings
  • Free Bootleg of Secret Chiefs 3 Live at Tralf Music Hall, on March 12, 2007