String Theory - Angular Distortion
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA: 20 May 2017
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
STRING THEORY With PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / et al - Angular Distortion (Evil Clown 9142; USA) This version of String Theory is PEK on clarinets, saxes, double-reeds, etc., Glynis Lomon on cello & vocals, Mimi Rabson, Matt Scutchfield & Matthew Ward on violins and Silvian Castellano on bass. Dave Peck’s Leap of Faith Ensemble have several off-shoot projects which play live and are always documented for the Evil Clown label. This is the third CD from String Theory that we’ve mentioned and was recorded at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, MA in May of 2017, just a few months ago. Things begin with the sounds of aquasonics, those bowed vases that several members of Leap of Faith often play. Ritualistic, eerie and hypnotic. PEK seems to be playing a sheng here, a Chinese mouth blown free reed instrument with bent-sounding notes which sounds great surrounded by buzzing strings.
Although Mr. Peck is the longtime founder and leader of Leap of Faith and numerous offshoot projects, he is not the featured soloist here, hence this is a strong collective, group effort. Several subgroups emerge, submerge and interact in an organic, well-balanced way. The strings often slither and slide around one another with PEK selectively adding reeds or percussion or aquasonics, which are also played by the great cellist Glynis Lomon, also a founding member of LoF. Ms. Lomon also adds occasional weird vocal sounds which she uses selectively to add a sense of mystery to alien soundscape that this unit revels in. ‘Angular Distortion’ is one the few discs on Evil Clown which is often pretty restrained. All in all, it does reveal a calmer center, yet is still like entering another world. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
"... this is a strong collective, group effort. Several subgroups emerge, submerge and interact in an organic, well-balanced way... All in all, it does reveal a calmer center, yet is still like entering another world."
- 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.
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
Audio CD Evil Clown 9142
String Theory - Angular Distortion
streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Angular Distortion (1:10:49)
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 20 May 2017
PEK - piccolo & contraalto clarinets, tenor &
bass saxophones, oboe, tarota, contrabassoon,
tromboon, guanzi, sheng, aquasonic, slide whistles,
gong, hand chimes
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, hand chimes