Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtowm Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH [PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / DAN O’BIEN / ZACH BARTOLOMEI / YURI ZBITNOV] - Centroids (Evil Clown 9128; USA) Featuring PEK on saxes, clarinets, double reeds, saxophone, etc; Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic; Dan O’Brien on tenor sax, clarinets & flutes; Zach Bartolomei on soprano & alto saxes, melodica & metals and Yuri Zbitnov on percussion, balafon and metals. This set was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters on January 11th of this year (2017), less than 2 months ago. After the departure of original member reedman Steve Norton last year, Leap of Faith have continued and evolved with assorted new members taking his place. This disc features two new reed players: Dan O’Brien and Zach Bartolomei, two new names for me. The core remains: PEK, Ms. Lomon and Mr. Zbitnov.
Like many of the Leap of faith sessions, this one begins slowly with a somewhat ritualistic aura. Several clarinets or other reeds, cymbals, assorted metal percussion give this an Art Ensemble of Chicago-like vibe. Moments are stripped down and filled with suspense, an edge-of-your-seat preparation. Several combinations of instruments stand out: marimba, cello, melodica and chattering saxes or clarinets midway is particularly mind-blowing! Since PEK collects rare reeds from around the world as well as a wealth of percussion and metals, the group systematically moves from one combination of instruments. Is this truly metal chaos?!? I think not.
As far as this unit goes all out, they always remain focused and somehow connected. Like most LoF discs, this one also has a deranged vocal section with cartoon-like odd characters cut loose from the asylum. This section is pretty short but works well as a bridge between other weird worlds. While listening to the second half of this hour long disc, the music reminded me of way life is right now: ridiculous, hard-to-believe, explosive, too intense at times with occasional moments of humor or low-key reflection.
Yet another twisted treasure from the deluge of great Leap of Faith discs.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Video Grab tweak by PEK
Photos by Raffi
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.
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Leap of Faith - Centroids
Evil Clown Headquarters
11 January 2017
Audio CD Evil Clown 9128
Leap of Faith - Centroids
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Hyperplanes of Symmetry - 1:00:17
PEK - alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, oboe,
dulzaina, contrabassoon, aquasonic, melodica, daxophone, [d] ronins,
ms-20, metal, taxi horn, bull roarer, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Dan O'Brien - tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, piccolo, flute
Zach Bartolomei - soprano & alto saxophones, metal, melodica, crotales
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, balafon, crotales, bells, metal, wood, [d]ronins,
bull roarer, fog horn, voice