On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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.
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.
While the Leap of Faith Aesthetic generally utilizes larger ensembles with a variety of guests to create very broad palettes, maximizing potential for transformation across sonority, we also do smaller ensembles like quartets and quintets and occasionally just the core trio. I often observe that the strong connections that develop between the core members driving larger ensembles are exposed and emphasized when those players perform in a small unit. In fact, looking through the catalog, now containing well over 100 Leap of Faith titles, I find only 5 albums with this exact trio, and one duet with just PEK and Glynis. There are many other sets with quartets and quintets and other trios with early trio Leap of Faith line-up members Craig Schildhauer (bass) and Mark McGrain (trombone). There are also a number of PEK/Zbitnov duets which are released as Metal Chaos Ensemble.
Outpost 186, the site of Evil Clown’s third Saturday Residency, now in it’s third year, is a small venue. For most gigs, I bring 4 to 6 players from one of the Evil Clown Ensembles. There is generally not much room for the auxiliary instruments, so while we always have some, I would bring more if space permitted. When we do a trio, consequently, there is more room than usual, and I bring a lot more stuff. For auxiliary instruments this time, I brought 2 gongs, a ton of Tibetan bowls and bells, various orchestral castanets, various seed pod and other wood rattles, and other small things in 4 big percussion bags. This is the broadest pallet we have had for trio set at Outpost 186, but far short of what we have available when we are recording at Evil Clown Headquarters. Still, enough instruments for some really varied wood and metal textures…
Next week, the Leap of Faith Orchestra performs The Photon Epoch by PEK!!! These full orchestra performances use a Frame Notation Score to guide the improvisation. They take a lot of effort to prepare, and so these scores are only performed once or twice a year. This is the sixth performance by the LOFO of one of theses scores since 2015. Over time, I have observed that so-called “warm up” shows with small units that happen right before the LOFO shows are great performances, as we anticipate the excitement of the big show to follow. That is certainly the case here… Yuri exploring his wonderful new rig, a great pallet of instruments, the excitement of next week, the rarity of core trio performances all combine in a great core trio set! Check it out….
Audio CD Evil Clown 9212
Leap of Faith - Nucleosynthesis
1) Nucleosynthesis - 1:10:16
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA
20 April 2019
PEK - clarinet & contralto clarinet, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, tarota, contrabassoon, bass tromboon, wood flute, sheng, castanets, rachet, rattles, Tibetan bowls & bells, Chinese gong, hand chimes, aquasonic
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, castanets, rattles, bells
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, crotales, castanets, paiste gong, Tibetan bowls & bells, rattles, hand chimes
PEK tweak of a PEK Photo
Leap of Faith - Nucleosynthesis
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 19 January 2019