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.
Liner Notes by PEK
In March of 2020, just before the onset of the pandemic, I had a first session with a new percussionist, Michael Knoblach entitled Main Sequence… Although Michael plays the drum set, in recent years he has been focused on percussion. This duet with the Evil Clown percussion arsenal along with instruments from Michael’s huge collection available enabled wonderful new sonority. Michael plays at a quieter mean dynamic than is typical for Evil Clown ensembles. Leap of Faith, in particular, has stretches of this quieter space in nearly every improvisation, but the mean dynamic is much louder. It was very interesting to focus an entire set on my lower volume vocabulary.
In May of 2021, I opened Evil Clown Headquarters to other fully vaccinated musicians, and the first session of the new age was scheduled to revisit this sound world. Michael and I both enjoyed the auspicious first set and this will now be an ongoing Evil Clown project, both as a duet for some sets and as a larger unit for others. As an ongoing project, it needed a permanent name, so after some thought I came up with Expanse which evokes space and restraint, the central idea behind this ensemble.
Now, at the very end of 2021, Michael and I have recorded two additional Expanse records and one record with Leap of Faith. Each of these 3 sessions are powerful improvisation with larger ensembles: Vacuum Energy (5/19/21) added saxophonist Michael Caglianone, Scope (8/8/21) added the other 3 members of Michael’s band the JMDE Quartet, and the Leap of Faith set, Revealing the Essence (10/13/21) added Glynis Lomon on cello and Vance Provey on trumpet.
The JMDE Quartet had a big gig a few days past and a couple of weeks ago Michael reached out and suggested that we might have an Expanse set at Evil Clown Headquarters using the same gear which would already be in his van. I don’t usually schedule sessions on holidays since most players have family obligations, but Black Friday was open on both of our books, so we scheduled it on short notice. Most of the Evil Clown ensembles have core units, but seldom perform with only the core unit players, instead having different guests appear on various performances. I have noticed over years of doing this that the core unit acts a bellwether, guiding the improvisation and providing connectivity between the core unit and the guests. Later, when the core unit performs without guests, this experience of guiding larger ensembles reveals itself in very tight ensemble play and transparent communication across the ensemble.
I was expecting this to be a great session and I was not disappointed. Evil Clown will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, so stay tuned for several new releases per month from the various ensembles!!!
- PEK, 27 November 2021
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
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs
by Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com
PEK - clarinet, contralto & contrabass clarinets, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, piccolo oboe, dulzaina, shenai, alto & bass flutes, bass recorder, bass ocarinas, gongs, plate gong, melodica, chromatic harmonica, crank siren, brontosaurus & tank bells, almglocken, chimes, Englephone, crotales, cow bells, Tibetan bowl, hand chimes, bells, woodblocks, temple blocks, castanets, seed pod rattle, rachet, log drums, [d]ronin, spring and chime rod boxes, electric chimes, voice
Michael Knoblach - 36 in. bass drum, frame drum, busy box drum, tank drum, enamel bowls, crystal singing bowls, devil chasers axatse, African rattles, Fischer Price toys, sheep shears, slinky, wooden billiards triangle. titfer bells, antique child rattles, sand blocks, horses-ass-a-phone, basket of rocks, spooky world noise makers, spinning toy, acme siren whistle, mortar & pestle
Audio CD Evil Clown 9291
LIVESTREAMED from Evil Clown Headquarters
26 November 2021
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Breadth - 1:10:21
Expanse - Breadth
LIVESTREAMED from Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
26 November 2021
Liner Notes Excerpt by PEK (Full text below)
“… Most of the Evil Clown ensembles have core units, but seldom perform with only the core unit players, instead having different guests appear on various performances. I have noticed over years of doing this that the core unit acts a bellwether, guiding the improvisation and providing connectivity between the core unit and the guests. Later, when the core unit performs without guests, this experience of guiding larger ensembles reveals itself in very tight ensemble play and transparent communication across the ensemble…”
"The project name inspired by the concepts of space and restraint, this well-recorded live performance between multi-reedist/instrumentalist David Peck and drummer Michael Knoblach, both using a wealth of percussive devices and sonorous instruments, was live-streamed from the Boston Evil Clown Headquarters, showing the "Breadth" of their expansive ears."