On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Photo by Raffi
2015 to present
Photos by Rob Miller
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.
Evil Clown has a number of defined ensembles, each with a particular focus.... Turbulence is the horn players, String Theory is the string players, Leap of Faith is the core ensemble plus guests, etc... For some events in the medium size venues we use a format where a 10 person or so version of Leap of Faith or one of the other groups performs a long set at the end of the show, but we open with several short sets of trios or quartets.
While the focus is the same in the named Evil Clown ensembles, the personnel is frequently different at each occasion due to the availability of the various players. These shorter sets typically do not conform to the focus of one of the named ensembles, so I have taken to calling them Sub Units - A unique section of the Leap of Faith Orchestra which may be playing in the particular small configuration for the first an perhaps only time. The improvisations which result have a special character and place within the Evil Clown universe.
As of this writing (in Feb 2017) we have had 3 performances which have used this model. For this year, I have changed our performance schedule around a bit. We now have once a month at Outpost 186 which is a small venue - we will do mostly shows by the named ensembles here. We have every other month at Third Life Studios, with the first show next month, where we will do this format of a medium sized LOFO of around 10 players and opening sets by Sub-Units. And twice a year the full Orchestra will perform a score composed by myself at the Somerville Armory.
So, knowing that over time there will be a number of these unique sets, and foreseeing that I may have sessions for ensembles that will be one-offs - not meeting the focus of one of the named ensembles - I'm reserving the band name Sub Units for the band which is never the same band twice!!
- PEK (21 February 2017)
Sub Units Recordings
Photos by Rob Miller