Christmas has come early thanks to Trey Spruance and the Secret Chiefs. Their new release, Danse Macabre Superdeluxe, has just been released – listen now.
Not long ago Secret Chiefs 3 were touring with Dead Cross, now we have a two-track release from them, described as a kind of alternate Christmas carol. The release provides two versions of the tone-poem composition by Camille Saint-Saëns. The first version is “Danse Macabre Superdeluxe (arrangement 4, Mausolée Méchanique)”, which ironically, is performed 100% by humans. The second is “Danse Macabre in Krasnoyarsk (arrangement 3 for Russian Traditional Orchestra + SC3)”.
Secret Chiefs 3 released a version of Danse Macabre in 2013 and have been playing it live since 2012. Here’s how this version is described:
Since then there have been three increasingly elaborate arrangements, hybridizing SC3 with other, larger ensembles. The mother of all these arrangements in scale and depth is the FOURTH ARRANGEMENT “Superdeluxe” (2017) on offer right here. It’s a complex weave of obsessively rendered elements built upon the foundation of our own first arrangement, but now incorporating the genius work of many other voices who have contributed to the entire history of this piece,.
For example, harmonic inventions from Franz Liszt’s solo piano version of Danse Macabre copiously pepper this arrangement, and his ideas can now be heard redistributed among the various instruments of a hugely expanded FORMS Mausolée Méchanique (which is all %100 human playing, irony intended). New contextual inspirations from some orchestrion roller organs of yore, and sonic settings from certain renderings on Mighty Wurlitzer also now find their way deeply into the maze.
This arrangement also weaves elements from Liszt’s “Totendanz” into the tapestry, a stunt that would require some explanation if we were to digress (and we will later on). Elements from our other previous arrangements are also present, noting especially performances from the SECOND ARRANGEMENT, which we did for the New Music Works Ensemble, conducted by Philip Collins. The “Superdeluxe” arrangement is a very comprehensive presentation that took some doing. Find a $7 coin to drop in the slot and hear for yourself — behold the thundering sound of the Mausolée Méchanique!
Then there is the Krasnoyarsk version, which shows the first fruits of Secret Chiefs 3 collaboration with the Traditional Russian Orchestra of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Described as:
2014’s Third Arrangement (also presented here) was done as part of a program of SC3 repertoire music adapted for this amazing and adventurous 61-piece Soviet-style orchestra, accompanied by SC3 as the rhythm section. The arrangement, specifically for this ensemble, bursts the whole original Mausolée Méchanique (band-clustered-around-a-Theatrical-Organ thing) wide open, and fully indulges all the opportunities of traditional Russian instrumentation (domra, balalaika, bayan, gusli etc).
To accommodate this ambitious hybridization, the entire approach to the piece had to be re-imagined from the ground up, and a host of new counter lines and voicing approaches came up as a result. The recording here was made at the concert in Kansk, Siberia. More info and musical examples in the liner notes.
The release includes performances by Trey Spruance on organs, guitar, bass, percussion; William Winant on mallets, chimes, gran casa, cymbals; Matt Lebofsky on piano, organs; Jennifer Cass on harp; Timba Harris on violin; Terrie Baune on violin; Kristin Garbeff on cello; Teresa Orozco on flute; Kenny Grohowski on drums; Jim Kassis on additional percussion; and Philip Collins conducting.