Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
TURBULENCE DOOM CHOIR With PEK / KAT DOBBINS / ZACK GRASS / JOHN BAYLIES / YURI ZBITNOV - Energy Cascades (Evil Clown 9151; USA) This Leap of Faith offshoot features: Dave PEK on saxes, clarinets, double-reeds, etc., Kat Dobbins on trombone, Zack Grass on tubas, John Baylies on electric tuba & synth and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & metals. The cast of Boston-area based musicians for Leap of Faith and their numerous off-shoots, continues to grow as the many discs pile up. More than 100 CD’s at last count!?! There are a couple of newer names here which is great as Dave Pek keeps finding new musicians to collaborate with. This is a long (71 minute) set and it evolves, slowly, cautiously. Starting with the long, slightly ominous tones of the two tubas, trombone and percussion, slowly ascending until PEK enters on a serpent-like double reed or odd clarinet. The ever-amazing Yuri Zbitnov gets into a powerful, jazz/rocking groove midway, locking in and kicking the infectious groove higher and higher with the tuba(s) locking into that bassline. The one or two tubas and trombone work well together, combining forces and complimenting each other. Although this quintet was a one-off, it sounds as if the unit has been working together for many years. Mr. Zbitnov helps navigate the rhythm currents underneath while PEK takes his time to find the right reed to add his consistently engaging solos. Yet another winner from the vast Evil Clown catalogue. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Turbulence Doom Choir - Energy Cascades
Outpost 186, Waltham MA
15 July 2017
Photos by Raffi,
"One of the Boston area's incredible, eclectic collective organizations from David PEK's Evil Clown is Turbulence Doom Choir, a quintet with three brass players, drums, reeds, and a variety of percussive, wind instruments, game calls, &c., presenting large scale improvisations of uniquely evolving approaches, instrumentation, and heavy rhythms, a powerful brew."
Audio CD Evil Clown 9151
Turbulence Doom Choir - Energy Cascades
Energy Cascades- 1:10:53
PEK - tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet &
contraalto clarinet, contrabassoon, dulzaina,
tarota, sheng, tromboon, guanzi, melodica,
crank siren, slide whistles, fog horn, kazoo, game
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 Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG