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.
2 Audio CDs Evil Clown 9178
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
1. Sub-Unit 1: Premises - 16:16
2. Sub-Unit 2: Validity & Soundness - 15:54
3. Sub-Unit 3: Conditional Statements - 16:15
4. Sub-Unit 4: Truth Table - 17:26
5. Orchestra: Deductions - 50:42
PEK (1,4,5) - clarinet & contraalto clarinet,
sopranino, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, english
horn, tarota, alto flute, sheng, harmonium,
aquasonic, metal, wood, goat horn, hand chimes,
Steve Proviser (2,5) - trumpet, valve trombone.
metal, wood flute
Duane Reed (2,5) - baritone horn, wind siren,
metal, hand chimes
Sydney Smart (2,3,5) - electronic percussion,
Photos by Raffi
Liner Notes by PEK:
Five times a year, a smallish Leap of Faith Orchestra (10 to 15 players) heads over to Third Life Studios in Somerville for an evening of large ensemble improvisation. For the first half of the show, we do four short 15 minute improvisations by different quartet sub-groupings of the orchestra. Then we do a 50 minute improvisation with everyone.
These shows are open to the entire Evil Clown roster of about 50 musicians. So, although we have some steady regulars, the orchestra really is different every time. I assign the sub-units to take advantage of unusual groupings of instruments. I also bring a bunch of auxiliary instruments like wood blocks, hand chimes, bells, slide whistles, sirens, etc., which we distribute though the ensemble to enable players to completely change their sound.
For the longer improvisation with everyone, we have a rule that each player should lay out for roughly a third of the duration of the piece. Together with the broad palate provided by a large ensemble with everyone capable of instrument changes, this rule naturally creates a steady flow of transformation though different sonorities.
For this performance, the band is smaller than usual at 8 musicians, and Yuri was not available for once. When we have a full complement, the sub-units are quartets or even quintets, but with a smaller orchestra, I selected a duet, quartet and two trios. In the 90s period, Glynis and I performed as a Leap of Faith duet on at least several occasions, but in the recent period, we have not done one. I think the tightness of vision that comes with being the core of the larger ensembles is really apparent from this duet. The other sub-units sets are excellent also and each very different from the others.
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
Third Life Studios, Somerville MA
5 May 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