On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK Solo - Fulcrum
by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
PEK - Solo - Fulcrum (Evil Clown 9170; USA) This disc features PEK on tenor & bass saxes, clarinets, bassoon, tarota, accordion, daxophone, aquasonic and metals. Dave Peck is the longtime leader and founder of the Leap of Faith, an immensely prolific Boston-area institution with some hundred discs available. Although PEK has several offshoot projects like Turbulence & Metal Chaos, his solo offerings are pretty rare. Starting off with just a gong and slowly adding eerie metal percussion, PEK still evokes that Art Ensemble ritualistic vibe, adding some spacious reverb to the cymbals, gongs and drums. On occasion it is hard to tell which reed or double reed PEK is playing, Contra-alto clarinet or bassoon, hard to tell which. Mr. Peck does a good job of evoking those dark spirits, suspending time and putting his listeners into a trance. Instead of overdubbing, Mr. Peck seems to sample certain sounds (often percussive) and then loop them underneath his solos. He usually picks up one reed instrument at a time, occasionally sampling it as well. It often seems as if PEK is stretching out time as he explores drones and textures slowly manipulating them, their sound expanding, contracting and carefully twisted. At one point Mr. Peck is playing bass sax, the deepest tone of the sax family. It sounds as if we are being submerged in the depths of the sea, like being in a submarine or bathosphere. 75 minutes seems like a long time to be submerged but again, we are on a journey so… dive in my friend and please don’t drown.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK Solo - Fulcrum
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 9170
PEK Solo - Fulcrum
1. Leverage - 1:16:24
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
raffi photo tweaked by PEK
“… It often seems as if PEK is stretching out time as he explores drones and textures slowly manipulating them, their sound expanding, contracting and carefully twisted. At one point Mr. Peck is playing bass sax, the deepest tone of the sax family. It sounds as if we are being submerged in the depths of the sea, like being in a submarine or bathosphere…”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
PEK Solo: Fulcrum
Extracting the leader from a multitude of ensembles, David Peck's solo album has him performing on tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, clarinet, contraalto clarinet, bassoon, tarota, hand chimes, accordion, [d]ronin, wood, metal, aquasonic, daxophone, Atlantis gong, plus pre-recorded mixes adding a "soloist with tape" aspect to his complex and rich performance.
Liner Notes by PEK
Every once in a while there is a break in the Evil Clown schedule and I have a little time for a solo session. In the 90s, I did solo performances occasionally - which presented several challenges. I like to work in a long form with lots of instrument changes, so I came up with several tricks for rapidly changing horns while continuing the improvisation...
Recently, 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.
On my last solo album, Thulsa Doom (2017), I first used one of these mixes to accompany my solo - this is a bit more like the idea of 20th century classical composition tradition of Soloist with Tape, than the improvisation tradition of unaccompanied solo, but it neatly solves the problem of a long-form continuous solo performance with instrument changes. The big difference is the solo part is completely improvised...
This is my first solo effort that uses the full length of the CD as a single work, something which we do as a matter of course in Leap of Faith and many of the other Evil Clown Ensembles.
PEK - tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet & contraalto clarinet, bassoon, tarota, hand chimes, accordion, [d]ronin, wood, metal, aquasonic, daxophone, Atlantis gong, Ableton computer mix*
*samples from the Evil Clown archives and
newly recorded for this set at Evil Clown Headquarters
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
5 March 2018