On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK - clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, tenor saxophones,
dulzaina, oboe, tromboon, daxophone, electric kazoo, [d]ronin, aquasonic, melodica, crank siren,
glockenspiel, crotales, metal, ms-20, ableton mix,
Jason Adams - bass, electric cello, interstellar grain
clouds, [d]ronin, metal
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, daiko, balafon, glockenspiel,
crotales, danmo, metal, wood
Chicxulub - Creation Event
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
26 January 2017
Composer and multi-instrumentalist, PEK, set his sights on something bigger with the Leap of Faith Orchestra's Supernovae. The previous incarnation of the LOFO expands from the fifteen musicians on The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown, 2016) to twenty-one players on this new outing. Another noteworthy element of this project is PEK's use of Frame Notation where the score is seen in written descriptions and straight-forward symbols within Duration Bars. The system provides the musicians with immediate understanding of their own parts and the higher-level arrangement of the music.
Supernovae consists of a single track composition running just under eighty minutes. The digital download includes a bonus track. Though the extended piece is not broken out by formal movements, there are clear delineations within the score. PEK's ensemble—not surprisingly—includes enough non-traditional and weird instruments to compete with a Dr. Seuss orchestra. Though they are not playing in a vacuum, that group of instruments dominates the first ten minutes before strings and reeds make themselves more clearly heard. Forty-five minutes in, we have the first case of prolonged melody, darker and more subdued than the overall tone of the first half.
Supernovae gives way to free improvisation overlaying the melody. Eventually the piece introduces a brilliant percussion passage before it reintroduces the non-traditional music elements, but here in a more refined manner. As with all of PEK's compositions, there is—behind the scenes—a painstaking amount of organization that is not always evident in the listening. That is part of the beauty of this album; the non-traditional approach to instrumentation and the lack of adherence to Western structure continue to make the various iterations of Leap of Faith consistently interesting. And interesting look at the written score can be viewed at http://www.evilclown.rocks/lofo-supernovae-score.html.
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
CHICXULUB [PEK / JASON ADAMS / YURI ZBITNOV] - Creation Event (Evil Clown 9130; USA) Chicxulub features Dave PEK on clarinets, double reeds, sax, daxophone, metals & percussion; Jason Adams on bass, electric cello & interstellar grain clouds (?) and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, percussion & balafon. Outside of a couple solo discs by PEK, this is the smallest number of participants of any of the two dozen LoF or offshoot discs that I’ve reviewed so far. This disc was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters in January of this year (2017), just three months ago. From the look and list of instruments found in EC Headquarters, there are dozens (100’s?) of instruments to choose from: avalanche of reeds, percussion, electronics, rare and uncommon instruments.
“Impact” is a set-long single piece of some 67 minutes. Layers of resonating gongs, cymbals and assorted metals, near ominous in their dark, ritualistic sound. Is that an electric kazoo, are those sirens, gamelan gongs?!? It is quite unnerving yet somehow it does a fine job of transporting us to another world, weird yet exotic in its own way.
Industrial music?!? Eventually, the throbbing beast calms down to a more hypnotic, ritualistic groove. There is a long section of somber percussion: glockenspiel, bells, glimmering cymbals or electronic reverberations?!? Dinosaurs conversing? Godzilla vs. Gidra?!? PEK cuts loose on a large, deep sax in the second half, blasting with an immense, rather scary sound… but it doesn’t last for long as a more restrained, trance-inducing throb takes over, the beast calms down to a more tame segment. Is that a tribal, dance groove we hear towards the end?!?! It sure sounds that way and it sure feels good to me. Eventually settling into a long, coming in for a landing and a dream-like, space-music conclusion. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Audio CD Evil Clown 9130
Chicxulub - Creation Event
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Impact - 1:07:27
Photos by Raffi, screen grabs