Secret Chiefs 3
The enigmatic, esoteric Secret Chiefs 3 are not in fact a trio, but a rotating cast of musicians led by Mr. Bungle songwriter-guitarist-studio whiz Trey Spruance. Not surprisingly, the two bands have a few things in common -- elaborate production values, genre-hopping stylistic diversity, and a general refusal to settle into predictability -- but SC3 has its own identity as a more mysterious, less in-your-face entity. In keeping with the shrouded Islamic philosophy at work in the elaborate cover art and liner notes, much of the music has a pronounced Middle-Eastern vibe; Musique Concrete, dissonant Surf rock, Indian and Italian soundtracks, warped Drum 'n' Bass, and vestiges of Death Metal also work their way into the mix. From the scrambled, cut-and-paste trickery of 1996's First Grand Constitution & By-Laws to the more song-centered (though still largely instrumental) Second..., SC3 have managed to convincingly merge these divergent elements, effectively waging its "Holy War" on mediocrity.