On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Luminiferous Aether
Evil Clown Headquarters - 10 January 2019
PEK tweak of a video grab
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Review Excerpt by Bruce Lee Gallanter (Full Text Below)
"Everything is well-recorded, the subtle layers of percussion slowly getting more dense. The sextet mix tribal drumming with eerie synth sounds and spacey cymbals, metal or balafons. Although all of this music is improvised, Mr. Pek always assembles ensembles who listen, react and contribute selectively. Rarely do things get too dense. Mostly, everything flows together organically although, the echo effects also keep the vibe mesmerizing. "
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Liner Notes Excerpt (full text below)
"... This particular set is a bit MCE old school, since 3 of the five musicians are great drummers. I had tried to schedule a session like this a few months ago with myself and these three drummers, but Yuri had car trouble and Syd’s wife uses their car on Thursdays, so Steve and I ended up doing a duet (Emergent Syntax)... ....This time It was looking like we were going to be Yuri, Steve, myself with Joel in the recording chair. I need to have Joel here for the mix when the ensemble gets more complicated and it seemed like a smaller unit, so I thought I would bring in Eric on synth, since I’ve been looking for a good set for that. Turns out Syd was able to ride with Eric and we ultimately had this full quintet!"
Audio CD Evil Clown 9205
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Luminiferous Aether
streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Luminiferous Aether- 1:10:22
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 1/10/2019
PEK - clarinet & contralto clarinet, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, bass tromboon, Melodica, wind siren, wood flute, Akia ewi, moog subsequent, Korg ms-20, [d]Ronin, Brontosaurus & tank bells, crotales, cymbells, log drums, metal, wood, voice, Ableton Mix*
Steve Niemitz - drums, tabla, balafon, log drums, glockenspiel, Orchestral Chimes, crotales, cymbells, Dan-Mo, metal, wood, crank siren
Syd Smart - drums, handsonic, theremin, talking drum, ocean drum, metal, voice
Joel Simches - real time signal processing and live to 2-track mix
*samples from the Evil Clown catalog or specially recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters
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.
Liner Notes by PEK
Metal Chaos Ensemble was formed in early 2015 by PEK and Yuri Zbitnov as a working project to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments. I had started to amass the Evil Clown Arsenal of percussion, electronic and wind instruments and we needed a workshop to develop this universe of sounds for the Leap of Faith Ambient Orchestra. It was immediately obvious that Metal Chaos Ensemble had a sound to itself and over the last three years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown ensembles. We have produced a bunch of albums covering a wide range of sonority sets, but always with the presence of Gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan Bowls and many other metallic sounds and the horns of PEK. All Metal Chaos Ensemble sessions include at least myself and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests.
For around 2 years now, I have been using the Ableton software to create electronic mixes which we use in several of the bands as an accompaniment track. In performance, I ride the fader from off to very present, but most of the time more to the background. Raw samples are taken from the Evil Clown Catalog and also specially recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters with instruments drawn from the Evil Clown arsenal. I then use Adobe Audition to process the samples and finally Ableton to assemble a timeline and create a mix. Most of the more recent MCE sessions use one of these mixes.
In the early days of MCE, most of our sets were with multiple percussion players. More of the recent MCE sets have a bigger variety of instruments with everyone doubling the percussion, more emphasis on electronic instruments and signal processing, and fewer dedicated percussionists… This particular set is a bit MCE old school, since 3 of the five musicians are great drummers. I had tried to schedule a session like this a few months ago with myself and these three drummers, but Yuri had car trouble and Syd’s wife uses their car on Thursdays, so Steve and I ended up doing a duet (Emergent Syntax).
This time It was looking like we were going to be Yuri, Steve, myself with Joel in the recording chair. I need to have Joel here for the mix when the ensemble gets more complicated and it seemed like a smaller unit, so I thought I would bring in Eric on synth, since I’ve been looking for a good set for that. Turns out Syd was able to ride with Eric and we ultimately had this full quintet!
I’m very happy with this performance which combines the old school percussion dominated MCE with some of the electronics of the new school MCE. Check it out!
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE With PEK / ERIC ZINMAN / YURI ZBITNOV / STEVE NIEMITZ / SYD SMART - Luminiferous Aether (Evil Clown 9205; USA) The Metal Chaos Ensemble or MCE feature this time: PEK on carnets, saxes, melodica, synths & percussion; Eric Zinman on synth, balafon & log drums; Yuri Zbitnov on drums, metal, orchestral percussion; Steve Niemitz on drums, tabla, balafon, wood & metal; Syd Smart drum, theremin, etc. and Joel Simches on signal processing. The MCE seem to be the most prolific of all the Leap of Faith offshoot projects with some 15 previous releases. The personnel changes from session to session, with just a trio on some discs (PEK, Zbitnov & Simches). This session was recorded at Evil Clown HQ in January of this year (2019, just last month) and this version is a sextet. All six members play a variety of percussion: brontosaurus bells, cymbals, crotales, balafon, log drums, metal & wood. Two of are elders: Syd Smart (for Raphe Malik & Ted Daniel) and Eric Zinman (for Linda Sharrock), who have been around for a long time, but remain under the radar. Mr. Zbitnov does a creepy spoken word recitation to start things off, it is short and slowly the percussion and synth swirl softly together, building, layer by layer. PEK selectively chooses one reed or double reed at a time, taking solos on each while the percussion, synth(s) and processing weave their way around one another. Everything is well-recorded, the subtle layers of percussion slowly getting more dense. The sextet mix tribal drumming with eerie synth sounds and spacey cymbals, metal or balafons. Although all of this music is improvised, Mr. Pek always assembles ensembles who listen, react and contribute selectively. Rarely do things get too dense. Mostly, everything flows together organically although, the echo effects also keep the vibe mesmerizing. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG