A journey from Unity to Multiplicity [2004-10-03]Guitarist, arranger, producer and composer Trey Spruance presented on his fourth Secret Chiefs 3 the ambitious plan of a trilogy called Kitab al Haqq, the Book Of Truth. The answers he returned to my queries may seem rather cryptic sometimes, like the whirlwind of symbols and references found in his musical and visual concepts. I will make no attempts at explaining them as they are true to the whole Secret Chiefs 3 mystique. Read with the right eye this article can be enlightening as to what Trey is trying to convey and by this the article sets itself apart from the 'common' interviews to be found elsewhere on the web. I leave it up to the reader to decide if it's an open book or just a bunch of mumbojumbo. The Web of Mimicry provides suggested readingmaterial regarding the subjectmatter in the Museum Without Walls for those who choose to investigate.
The Book Of Truth
m[m] The trilogy is called The Book Of Truth, do we get to know The Truth by the end of it?
Trey Some people might feel that way. Others might feel that we just like to use lofty sounding titles and peddle wooden nickles to gullable doofs, but at least the music is pretty cool. Others feel they know The Truth already and resent us for having the audacity to try and corner the market on it. Otherwise they might have liked the music... but none of this has anything to do with The Book of Truth.
m[m] What does part one, Book Of Horizons, represent in this?
Trey A few things. The most general thing would be the idea of the journey/descent/impregnation of soul (if we may indulge the term) into matter. Macrocosm to microcosm, or we could say Being to Becoming. The idea of the “fall” gets all wrapped up in there, and anyone could be forgiven for mentally conceiving that as from “Above to Below”, since that's what's been done by bright humans since time immemorial. It's helpful also to see it from the another popular angle as a journey from Unity to Multiplicity - if we must default to the creation myths of modern science and Christianity, which are not appreciably different, you have a field being created from a singularity - and then a myriad of objects become the boundary points of the universe, or at least the conceptual markers. So the realm of Horizon relates to the Microcosmic field whereby interactions between things take place. For our purposes, instead of saying the Book of Horizons relates to the Below, which would be wrong, it's better to say that the Book of Horizons concerns itself with the cosmological process Above to Below. This is true from the “below” point of view at least. From the “above” point of view, if we dare say it, the energies pertaining to the event of restoration are articulated as being pointed in the opposite direction. Thus, the upward triangle, symbol of Fire, situated there on the Right, where the whole cosmological process is going in the opposite direction, i.e. down.
We insist that the “Above” and “Below” concepts not be whitewashed with such New Age slime that can only see such a dynamic as 'hierarchical' and therefore bad. This is ignorant.
Another aspect of Horizon that is in play is the creation of a three-dimensional model of the inner universe, marked at every terminal point on the three-pronged axis (of “mother letters” or spatial coordinates) by a different “band”. The journey of the “sun” takes place in this field, and shines upon each band differently at different times, depending on where the sun actually is. All the bands are placed spacially according to Traditional attributions, so none of this is at all vague or arbitrary. It may appear confusing at first. But hopefully will become more apparent as you get situated in the scheme of 'triangulation' we're erecting.
m[m] Secret Chiefs 3 manifests itself in various ways these days: The Holy Vehm, UR, Forms, The Traditionalists, Ishraqiyun and The Electromagnetic Azoth. How did the idea of the 7 bands come about and could you explain what is the purpose of it?
Trey It came about as a function of the multiplicity referred to above, which in the microcosmic act, or Art, of restoration leads eventually and inevitably through what in Alchemical terms is referred to as "Separation". We can't talk about what these represent because each stage of what they represent signifies a shift in perpective. It changes everything: hues, contrasts, angle of shadow... like a broadening, not so much a translation from one thing into another, ie, Forms “represents” Jupiter being replaced by Forms “represents” the West etc., but an expansion of the fields of vision to accomodate the signs of the 'archetype' more fully. As we are liable to do when presented with symbols and no means of relating them to their source, we initially view them from the 'creationist' perspective referred to above. In this case they are “bands” that are said to ”represent” certain things, but anyone into this kind of thing will find themselves moving towards the larger 'emanationist' point of view as his/her perspective on the interplay of all these things broadens.
In yet another sense, to continue with Formsas our example, this band is the primary visible function, or “charge”, of the solar Right side that has its more terrestrial reflection “below” in the Traditionalists (from the below point of view). Another band, Ishraqiyun, is the primary function, archetype, or “charge” of the lunar Left side that has it's more terrestrial reflection in UR (from the below point of view). At mid-point between the Left and the Right (and from one perspective, between Above and Below) all this is mediated by The Electromagnetic Azoth, which distributes the energies (melodies, phrases, ideas) around the various bands. Mainly invisible to the below, this activity forms a celestial current, as it were. The actual Earthen grounding goes through The Holy Vehm on down to M.
But from album to album the position of the sun/moon determines the weight and angle of energy each band recieves. So, again, it is not that Forms “represents” the Sun, or the Right, but that it is placed at the visible head of the solar pillar - the “above” of the solar pillar - and due to proximity recieves energies in a more primary way than the bands below it. Thus its themes will register as less convoluted than those of say, The Electromagnetic Azoth, which takes them and redistributes them in different “colours”, or The Holy Vehm, which subjects them to dissolution.
There are a million other things, attributions, that can't even be remotely touched upon here and getting into further specifics won't make sense to anyone without some background in this stuff. (Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Isma'ili/Shi'ite Mysticism, Zohar/Yetzirah study, Traditionalism). It's just vulgar and annoying to harp on it and I will take an endless amount of ignorant shit for saying any of this at all publicly. It's inevitable: I've encountered enough self-congratulatory dick-wipes who assume that my reasons for relaying any of this kind of stuff is to buttress myself with an air of “mystery” and authority, which is of course the only reason they could ever imagine, since their own lives are filled with little beyond the usual attempts at social climbing. For those who are intersted, our website will have more discussion and elaboration of all this stuff, as will the liner notes of subsequent releases.
m[m] There's some discussion among fans about extreme metalband The Holy Vehm and if they should've been on the album because some people think those tracks disrupt the flow of the album, do you care about these complaints?
Trey I care in that it's disturbing to see the phenomenon of iTunes and personal CD burning affecting the music listener to the point where he/she thinks he/she should be the one to decide such things.
From the artist's perspective, this is like saying the Pacific ocean shouldn't be there because it disrupts the flow of mid-western praries rolling into the high plateaus of China. But it goes deeper than such a paltry arty-fart complaint. Can you imagine if Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring was pressed to CD in 1913 and indexed part by part? Just imagine how many parts would've gotten skipped over due to them “disrupting the flow”. I'm sure far fewer people would've paid any attention to the piece at all. Instead they would've made a “mix tape” with the opening Adoration of the Earth Introduction and then switched to some Scriabin Sonatas and excerpts from Pictures at an Exhibition flanked by Souza marches and then just forgotten about the rest of it.
m[m] Would you call yourself a Muslim or is it more about spirituality?
Trey I'm not qualified to call myself a Muslim. I guess you've noticed that there's a long-winded Philosophical dimension to what I do. I try to mean “Philosophical” in the older sense, as in study of Divine Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), as opposed to the more modern version of sitting around the coffee table and chewing up the latest Lacanian elaborator and getting on endlessly about political science (though I do a lot of all that too). I definitely tend toward the “Gnostic” heresy more than anything else, I just fell into it. From the most basic level, to me it's fairly plain to see that the world presented to me by the consciousness of the age I was born into is handicapped: mentally, spiritually - it's all the same. So by default you become a “Seeker”. Communism, Capitalism, Agnosticism, Religious Fanatacism, Atheism, Anarchism, Fascism, these were all prisons that were not too hard to escape from, as long as you're willing to put some real effort into it, anyone can do it. People from every culture and every time period have done it. that's “a matter of historical record”. But self-realization demands more than just declaring: “I am an individual, don't apply your labels to me” and then just being a jerk and talking down to everybody the way I like to do. Some form of practice and/or discipline is going to be involved in any real unfoldment of self. The Muslim world has a zone called Sufism that I personally feel quite at home in. I'm not talking about Deepak Chopra here, but even so I don't understand people who have the gall to call themselves Sufis without being practicing Muslims first. My favorite one of those is “I'm a Qabalist”. Just hilarious. Two times through the whole Zohar and ten years of study and I'm exponentially farther from being "a Qabalist" than when I started. Those people in L.A. must really be smart.
No, the Traditions of the West have been utterly demolished. And I think it's safe if I call myself a Traditionalist. Therefore I have no idea what to call myself.
m[m] How did the interest in Islam/Sufi, Qabalah and alchemy come about?
Trey The need for those things just came on stronger and stronger. In my teens Nietzche and some of the existentialists had delivered me through some rough things. I did what I thought was the typical early-twenties explosion into full-on mania, since having relocated to San Francisco I found myself surrounded by a few people who really awed me. Turns out I was just lucky. Nobody I knew was into any of this stuff, but it increasingly became my only way of assimilating the cognitive gulf between the rare geniuses I was lucky enough to be exposed to versus the state of the rest of things I saw around me. More and more I found my own conceptual boundaries being smashed, forcibly and painfully sometimes, and other times just blasted apart in semi-ridiculous rapture episodes. After awhile I devoloped this sick habit of weaving things together, seeing incredible connections between things etc., you know: schizophrenia, parallelomania. Lucky for me, along with that came this uncanny thing where the “right” things would start falling into my hands just at the right time. What differentiated these things from schizophrenia was that they helped me pull my head out of the giddy fog of experiencing the “miraculous” and see that this was not anything particularly new, or novel. If really weird, undeniable occurences of “synchronicity” continue to this day, I now know that it's all in what you train yourself to look for in them (and what to not see in them).
Around '92 I'd been in this drawn-out four-year vortex that had me oscillating between fighting whatever horrendous difficult vision I'd been cursed with, and embracing it. The more I'd fight it, the more miserable I'd be, the more I embraced it, the more nuts I'd go. Finally a third option presented itself & I didn't have a choice. I suppose art historians call this finding your muse. Fucking sadistic bastard (bastard-ette?). Could be the best thing that ever happened, or demonic possession, who knows? A Daimon? A “Guardian Angel”? A “Higher Self”? Could be Satan himself. All of the above? Just my friggin' imagination? Whatever. Back then I was only trying to stay alive. But then the chains of “synchronicities” led me out of the post-adolescent dungeon, because I put some real effort into following them up... which of course led me straight into Hermeticism.
Events in The Theatrum
m[m] We've seen the release Book M and the start of the 'threepart meta-album'Book Of Truth after you announced a third and fourth Grand Constitution to follow The Second Grand Constitution And Bylaws: Hūrqalyā. What happened to those plans?
Trey They hover there waiting to be made. Mostly written - the third has been done for years. Going on a decade in '08. Consider it a “vintage” when it comes out! Actually I age most of my ideas considerably before selling them, that's just a habit of mine.
m[m] Do you have an idea how to do a tour with this seven-band-concept?
Trey We'll start small and work up to it. Two or three bands at first. In two years we'll have them all out there at once. Maybe take a few out by themselves, opening for other bands. We'll see in what order this will all take place.
m[m] You're producing Impaled's new album, play in doommetal band Asva, have a game-music company with Tim Smolens and Jeff Attridge, run the Mimicry imprint and you announced a lot of releases and liveshows by Secret Chiefs 3 and the subbands. You also read lots of philosophical and esoteric literature and on top of that you seem an avid musicfan and -collector. Where do you find the time?
Trey Um, the “game music company” has done nothing I'm aware of. I think they just threw my name up there. But it's a good idea. I've got 8 million ideas I'll never get to that I could easily piss out in a day for something or other. Best not to let it all go to waste.
The main insanity right now is the label, with releases by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, The Youngs, Brazzaville, The Tuna Helpers, Asva, Fishtank and UR all coming up. Hopefully reissues of the first two Farmers Market CD's (only released in Norway) and a Secret Chiefs 3 tour! Somewhere in there I have to find six straight months of work time for the next Secret Chiefs 3 (Book Of Souls). It's a full plate alright, time grows on trees, I hope. I'm surrounded by them.
m[m] What about the Balkan-metal band with Tim Smolens (Estradasphere) and Dave Murray (ex-Estradasphere) mentioned by the latter elsewhere on this site?
Trey Tim and I only had a discussion about how it seems crazy such a thing as pure balkan-style metal, without all these other alien elements like jazz/fusion/”world” music hasn't happened already. Just a straight up metal band playing covers of that stuff... that's as far as it's gone. I think Tim's got some stuff up his sleeve for the next Estradasphere, but that will not be the straight up true metal thing I know will happen someday, somewhere. I can tell you know what I'm talking about, eh? If I had the time, I'd do it. If it hasn't happened in three years time, you're on...
Thanks to Frankco Lamerikx for functioning as an esoteric signpost and Fritz Hoepfner and Mark Thornton for visuals (shot at the Ishraqiyun show at SXSW 2004).
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