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.
Review Excerpt from Bruce Lee Gallanter
"... The sound of wheezing strings, expanding and contracting, groaning & droning reeds & double reeds, throbbing and spinning basses, hypnotic yet disorienting underwater currents flowing around us, reaching for the safety net. It you are patient, you will find yourself sailing on raft, balancing on the waters far at sea so sit down, listen close and enjoy the ride."
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG (full review below)
"The Leap of Faith string-heavy grouping in a concert at Outpost 186 in Cambridge, 2018 with PEK on bamboo saxophones, reeds, tarota, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, aquasonic & bells; Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic; Grant Beale on guitar; Lukasz Pavlikovsky on cello & aquasonic; Albey onBass on electric bass; Silvain Castellano and Adrienne Schoenfeld on double bass."
Liner Notes by PEK
In the early Leap of Faith period (90s), we did a number of shows with Strings and myself, in fact, for a couple of years the core trio was myself on reeds, Glynis Lomon on cello, and Craig Schildhauer on bass. String Theory is the extended string section of the Leap of Faith Orchestra, and the current incarnation of this early period Leap of Faith ensemble. As well as being the string section of the orchestra, String Theory performs and records independently. Since we rebooted the Leap of Faith project in 2015, we have released over 10 albums of string and woodwind improvisations…
For this session we have Glynis and myself plus LOFO regulars Albey onBass on electric bass, Silvain Castellano on double bass, Reverend Grant Beale on guitar and relative newcomers Adrienne Schoenfeld on double bass and Lucasz Pavlikovsky on cello. This ensemble is a very low string quartet with electric bass & guitar and my woodwinds! String players are in high demand and generally pretty busy, so we tend to do fewer String Theory shows and sessions than other Evil Clown ensembles and we sometimes miss some of our great players like Mimi Rabson due to packed schedules… However, this time the schedules were kind to us and we jammed about as many players (7) as we can fit into Outpost 186… I love larger improvisation units with many instruments in the same timbre/sonority sets - These kind of units are capable of making extraordinary textures…
All of the sub-unit ensembles which feed the Leap of Faith Orchestra are really benefiting from our heavy schedule over the last four years. These players really listen and integrate their ideas into a natural sequence of transformations through diverse sonorities… Stay tuned for more String Theory in the future…
PEK, 21 October 2018
Audio CD Evil Clown 9196
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 10/20/2018
1) Thickness of the Present - 1:10:25
2) What is Now? (download bonus track) - 11:04
PEK - bamboo soprano, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet & contraalto
clarinet, English horn, tarota, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, aquasonic,
Adrienne Schoenfeld - double bass
Photos by Raffi
String Theory - Thickness of the Present
Outpost 186, Cambridge MA - 10/20/2018
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
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
STRING THEORY With PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / REV. GRANT BEALE / LUKASZ PAWLIKOVSKY / ALBEY OnBASS / SILVAIN CASTELLANO / ADRIENNE SCHOENFELD - Thickness of the Present (Evil Clown 9196; USA) Featuring PEK on the usual assorted reeds, sheng, melodica & gong, Glynis Lomon & Lukasz Pawlikovsky on cellos, Rev. Grant Beale on guitar, Albey on electric bass and Silvain Castellano & Adrienne Schoenfeld on double basses. String Theory are one of several Leap of Faith offshoot projects and have a handful of previous releases. Their personnel changes slightly from gig to gig. Outside of the usual suspects: PEK & Glynis Lomon, the others can be found on previous String Theory or other Leap of Faith (& offshoots) discs. Since there are mainly stringed things involved here, outside of PEK’s assorted reeds bells & gong, this sounds less disorienting than some of the other Leap of Faith efforts. The sound of wheezing strings, expanding and contracting, groaning & droning reeds & double reeds, throbbing and spinning basses, hypnotic yet disorienting underwater currents flowing around us, reaching for the safety net. It you are patient, you will find yourself sailing on raft, balancing on the waters far at sea so sit down, listen close and enjoy the ride
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG