Photos by Catherine Hammond
Photos by Raffi
Leap of Faith - First Principles
Third Life Studios, Somerville MA - 11 May 2019
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.
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Program Notes by PEK
Leap of Faith is the core trio of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion. The ensemble is based in Boston and dates back to the early 90s. We utilize a huge arsenal of additional Evil Clown instruments to improvise long works featuring transformations across highly varied sonorities. The ensemble has always been highly modular and our many recordings feature the core trio in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests.
This particular performance was originally intended to be Leap of Faith Orchestra and Sub-Units – First Principles. We do the Orch + Sub-Units performances every other month at Third Life Studios in Somerville MA. I arrange the dates far in advance, and this one happened to line up with the Union Square porch fest which drew an enormous crowd, completely jamming the streets and blocking traffic. Susan, who runs the space, let me know it was going on earlier in the day, so I went very early – a good thing, since it took a full hour to go around one block to get to the closest load in point. In fact, I did not see how I was going to be able to unload my van full of equipment at all and I emailed Susan from my phone that I might have to cancel. Gradually, I crawled up the street with the other blocked traffic, and then at the last second, just as I got there, the car in the best possible parking spot left!!! So, I parked and unloaded.
Others from the group also had difficulty, even several hours after the end of the formal porch fest event, so we ended up postponing the start of the concert by an hour and changing the format of the performance. We usually do an hour’s worth of shorter (15 or 20 minute) improvisations by small sub-units of the orchestra, followed by a 50 minute set with everyone. Since, for this show, we were smaller than usual and an hour late, I decided to a single 70 minute full length set with everyone, which is the format we typically follow at small ensemble shows presented monthly at Outpost 186 in Cambridge. Seven or Eight players is almost, but not quite large enough, to qualify as an LOFO show, so I decided to categorize this ensemble as Leap of Faith.
The seven players on this session are all hard-core Evil Clown regulars. I love it when this happens, since everyone is familiar with the auxiliary instruments I bring, which leads to very broad transformations between sonorities. Also, there are multiple paths of long prior history between various sub-groups of the players going back decades. We did not have a drummer on traps, so the percussion sounds come from the rest of the players on the auxiliary instruments. Leap of Faith’s earliest formats both were drummerless, so we do well with no drummer as the overall sound takes on a more chamber / orchestral quality that one does not typically get with a drum set.
This hardcore Leap of Faith large chamber set demonstrates very well the Evil Clown broad-pallet aesthetic.
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Audio CD Evil Clown 9214
Leap of Faith - First Principles
1) A Priori - 1:10:16
Third Life Studios, Somerville MA
11 May 2019
PEK - clarinet & contralto clarinets, bamboo soprano, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, contrabassoon, tarota, alto flute, sheng, melodica, tank bell, Englephone, slide whistle, gongs, thunder sheet, flex-a-tone, slide whistle, wind siren, AUX*
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, AUX* - Jim Warshauer - alto & tenor saxophones, flute, wood flute, AUX*
Bob Moores - trumpet, Englephone, wood flute, game calls, flex-a-tone, slide whistle, gongs, AUX*
Eric Dahlman - trumpet, overtone voice, wood flute, game calls, gongs, whistle, AUX*
Duane Reed - baritone horn, bass trombone, slide whistle, wind siren, AUX*
Eric Zinman - piano, AUX*
*Auxilliary instruments: castanets, wood blocks, Tibetan bells & bowls, rattles, hand chimes, etc
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Here are some links to the Third Life Studio Shows from last year:
Cloud Taxonomies (double live album)
1) Sub-Unit 1 - Troposphere: https://youtu.be/DBm8x1WAtpI
2) Sub-Unit 2 – Mesosphere: https://youtu.be/DyL_xFpTQJ0
3) Sub-Unit 3 - Straosphere: https://youtu.be/r5P5zEBAXTo
4) Orchestra – Cloud Taxonomies: https://youtu.be/DPbXsYJgEBU
1) Sub-Unit 1: Effects Preceding Cause - https://youtu.be/X3OMGyF-Vnk
2) Sub-Unit 2: Non-Local Correlations - https://youtu.be/OLgeq44Ladg
3) Sub-Unit 3: Light Cones - https://youtu.be/9Z9Hd-iYq3s
4) Orchestra: Retrocausal Strategies - https://youtu.be/OeuulKnrlHM
Inferences (double album)
Sub-Unit 1. Derivations - https://youtu.be/SmDbsaIfrr0
Sub-Unit 2. Predicates - https://youtu.be/WxCv-qfU3kU
Sub-Unit 3. Fuzzy Logic - https://youtu.be/eo2xpeLUlEI
Orchestra 4. Inferences AKA Tweedy Probably Flies
1) Leap of Faith Orchestra Sub-Unit 1: Premises
2) Sub-Unit 2: Validity and Soundness - https://youtu.be/gEWitwMr6Sw
3) Sub-Unit 3: Conditional Statements - https://youtu.be/bKzwoU17Ggc
4) Sub-Unit 4: Truth Tables - https://youtu.be/OKQV6uxp7BQ
5) Orchestra: Deductions - https://youtu.be/Z26X4aVlIuc
Refuting Leplace's Demon (Double album)
Sub-Unit 1: Necessary Incompleteness - 16:28
Sub-Unit 2: Logical Independence - 15:12
Sub-Unit 3: Uncertainty Relations - 15:35
Sub-Unit 4: Observer Effect - 15:46
Orchestra: Refuting Leplaces Demon - 50:57