Expanse - Vacuum Energy
LIVESTREAMED from Evil Clown Headquarters
21 May 2021
Review Extract by Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery (Full text below)
“…In many ways, the threesome have concocted what can best be described as an archaeologically-rescued ‘world’ music, one which navigates throughout a whole host of multi-ethnic and indigenous sonic warrens in the most exploratory fashion imaginable… Call it cerebral ether music, extracted from the air with great forethought and heightened awareness, equally mighty and majestic.”
- Darren Bergstein, DMG
In May of 2021 Evil Clown label leader, multi-reedist and percussionist David Peck re-opened his performance space to fully vaccinated musicians, inviting Michael Caglianone on saxophones, Michael Knoblach on percussion, including rattlesnake drums, baskets of rocks, shakers, &c., recording this extended, rich, ruminative and introspective improvisation.
Liner Notes Excerpt by PEK (Full text below)
"… Last year, 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…”
PEK - contrabass clarinet, alto & tenor saxophones, piccolo oboe, alto flute, medieval pipe, sheng, wind siren, gongs, plate gong, brontosaurus & tank bells, almglocken, chimes, woodblocks, temple blocks, orchestral chimes, Tibetan bowls, xylophone, glockenspiel, daiko, flex-a-tone, [d]ronin, spring harp, electric kalimba, empire chime box, telstar, hedgehog chime box, electric chimes, chime rod box, spring boxes, log drums, cow bells, Englephone
Michael Caglianone- soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, seed pod rattles, orchestral chimes, Tibetan bowls, xylophone, glockenspiel, daiko, flex-a-tone
Michael Knoblach - basket of rocks, bowl of leaves, seed pod shakers, African split drums, African bell, shakers and rattles, water filled lobster pot & mason jars, billiards triangle, gypsy and busybox tambourines, abacus, rattlesnake drum, vibratones, frame drum, copper bowl, lp udder, sandpaper blocks, glass furniture leg carpet protector, slinky, horses-ass-a-phone, Christmas ornaments, clock chime, wind siren, egg beater, toys
Review by Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery
EXPANSE with PEK / MICHAEL CAGLIANONE / MICHAEL KNOBLACH - Vacuum Energy (Evil Clown 9272; USA) Another slow-burner from the Evil Clown camp, not the first by any stretch, but surely one of the best. Dave PEK’s clutch of 2021 releases thus far has found him in the company of like-minded colleagues, and the merging of their collective muses is birthing some hugely inspired, invigorating, and engaging music. The trio didn’t choose their name lightly: members Dave PEK, Michael Caglianone, and Michael Knoblach cover a wide range of subtly shifting territory. All three equip themselves splendidly on the usual dizzying assortment of woodwinds, hand-helds, and metals. The names of the noisemakers they employ themselves suggest aural textures heretofore unheard and unbreached: hedgehog chime box, horses-ass-a-phone, lp udder, vibratones, abacus, almglocken, etc. These instruments are ceremoniously plucked, rubbed, struck, shaken, disturbed, tossed, and blown through, and their placement within the soundstage is critically chosen and enhanced for maximum effect. In many ways, the threesome have concocted what can best be described as an archaeologically-rescued ‘world’ music, one which navigates throughout a whole host of multi-ethnic and indigenous sonic warrens in the most exploratory fashion imaginable. At roughly forty minutes in, for example, the listener will find themselves lost in a vibrant forest of bent, rusted metallica, awash in a miasma of foghorn callbacks engineered through the performer’s extended techniques and elusive detours, an environment that feels at once questing and probing, where one’s ears have neither lost nor found these exquisite motifs but rather embraces them in unquestioned surrender. Call it cerebral ether music, extracted from the air with great forethought and heightened awareness, equally mighty and majestic.
- Darren Bergstein, DMG
Liner Notes by PEK
The Evil Clown Empire is comprised of the Leap of Faith Orchestra and its core unit, Leap of Faith, along with other ensembles that feature different cross-sections of the Orchestra: Turbulence features the horn players, String Theory features the String Players, Metal Chaos Ensemble features percussion and electronics, PEK Solo features my own playing, etc. The individual bands do not have a fixed set of players, but instead have a central idea which focuses the palate of sounds available. One of the projects (now dormant while I find a venue to replace Third Life Studios), Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units, features short improvisation by sections from the orchestra followed by an improv with everyone. So, Evil Clown performances are credited to Sub-Unit No. “X” when a small format improvisation occurs by members of the orchestra which are not assignable to one of the regular ensemble names.
Last year, 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. Following my nomenclature for ensemble names, this first set was released with the band name Sub Unit No.1.
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 be an ongoing Evil Clown project, both as a duet for some sets and as a trio or quartet 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, key concepts behind this ensemble.
I invited Michael Caglianone, a woodwinds player who has done about 10 sessions mostly with Metal Chaos Ensemble and Turbulence. Michael and I did two excellent Turbulence sets as a trio with drummer Yuri Zbitnov: The Conception of Sense and Son of Cosmocentric. Vacuum Energy is a continuation of this trio as well as an extension of the first Expanse duo…
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, 21 May 2021
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - 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