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.
Audio CD Evil Clown 9165
Leap of Faith - Vector Space
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Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 9 December 2017
PEK - tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet & contraalto clarinet, tarota, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, wood flutes, metal, wood, game calls, hand chimes, sirens, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, metal wood, hand chimes, voice
A great set by the core trio. Most of the time Leap of Faith has one or more guests, and the Leap of Faith Orchestra ranges from 10 to 25 players, so core trio sets are somewhat infrequent. In the larger units, the trio is the bellweather that the other players latch onto for the anchor of the work. What I have observed is that when we do the trio by itself, we have become tighter as a result and the results have been consistently outstanding...
This was a performance at Outpost 186 in Cambridge during the first snow storm of winter 2017-2018 to a small but appreciative audience... We traveled light (for Leap of Faith) but brought a bunch of Tibetan Bowls and the new excellent Ron Vaughan wood blocks for percussion color. --- PEK
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH With PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / YURI ZBITNOV - Vector Space (Evil Clown 9165; USA) Featuring Dave PEK on tenor & bass saxes, clarinets, tarogato, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, game calls & siren, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion. Recorded live at the Outpost in Cambridge, MA on December 9th of 2017. This set features just the three core members of Leap of Faith with no guests and it is the smallest version of this ever-evolving ensemble whose membership goes from quartets to orchestras. This is also the least amount of instruments that Dave PEK usually brings, just over a dozen. The sound here is more stripped down and takes its time to build into the normal, ritualistic, organic vibe. The trio start off with just hand percussion, rustling chimes, metal or cymbals until Ms. Lomon starts plucking on the strings of her cello. It takes a while before Ms. Lomon uses her strange voice to evoke the twisted side of our ritualistic journey while PEK answers her quietly on melodica. There is strong yet restrained duo section for bass sax and bowed cello slowly builds into a more frenzied midsection for weird vocals from all three members (Mothers-like freak-out stuff), layers of percussion ands whistles. Things later seems to move in slow motion with those eerie blasts of bass sax, intense cello flurries and majestic mallet-work from Mr. Zbitnov, always a great navigator through the rapids. Thing wind down to a more calm section for somber double reeds, quiet plucked strings and nimble percussion. This disc shows that Leap of Faith actually have a more mellow side at times, strange as it may seem. This is still tasty medicine for those who need that ancient free spirit. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
"...This set features just the three core members of Leap of Faith with no guests and it is the smallest version of this ever-evolving ensemble whose membership goes from quartets to orchestras. This is also the least amount of instruments that Dave PEK usually brings, just over a dozen. The sound here is more stripped down and takes its time to build into the normal, ritualistic, organic vibe... This disc shows that Leap of Faith actually have a more mellow side at times, strange as it may seem. This is still tasty medicine for those who need that ancient free spirit."
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
PEK tweak of a video grab
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 - Vector Space
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA: 9 December 2017