On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Metal Chaos Ensemble
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 23 May 2019
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Liner Notes by PEK
Metal Chaos Ensemble (MCE) was formed in early 2015 by PEK and Yuri Zbitnov as a working project to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments. I had started to amass the Evil Clown Arsenal of percussion, electronic and wind instruments and we needed a workshop to develop this universe of sounds for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. It was immediately obvious that Metal Chaos Ensemble had a sound to itself and over the last three years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown ensembles. We have produced a bunch of albums covering a wide range of sonority sets, but always with the presence of Gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan Bowls and many other metallic sounds and the horns of PEK. All Metal Chaos Ensemble sessions include at least myself and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests.
As of this writing (27 May 2019), MCE has 40 or so albums, mostly recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters as a studio project along with 3 or 4 live performances. The broad pallet aesthetic of the MCE relies on a huge amount of equipment which allows for huge transformations across sonority. The amount of equipment involved makes mobilization to a venue a real issue – therefore, the studio nature of the bulk of this project. Since the MCE core unit is Yuri and PEK and we usually have guests, there are some repeating MCE Editions with mostly the same players. These include a mostly percussion MCE, a heavy electronics MCE, and a few other variations. This is the debut set by a new MCE variation, Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition.
We had been invited several months ago to travel to Wilmington Delaware to participate in a concert supporting Vermin Supreme for President by our facebook pals from Urban Shamen Attack. The Merry Pranksters event featured performances by 4 psychedelic rock bands along with great computer video projection by Jim Tuite… We decided to bring MCE for this show, but decided to push it more in the rock direction than usual by adding electric bass – creating a Power Trio Edition of the band with just drums, bass and a few of my horns. Initially, we had Albey onBass covering the bass part; Albey showed up in Boston last summer long enough to do about 10 Evil Clown sets in several of the different bands, but then he got a great opportunity to relocated to New Orleans and he took off (We miss you Albey!). Until a month or so before the Vermin Supreme show we though he would still make it, but finally I heard he could not pull it off.
So, we conducted a quick search for another bassist who could fill Albey’s huge shoes. We contacted a few of our regulars who all had conflicts and then we dug deeper. Yuri eventually came up with Mike Gruen, who really shreds, no doubt. Yuri and Mike had played together in very different settings, but never anything like MCE which is purely improvised. This warmup for the Vermin Supreme show which occurred two days later, on 25 May, is our first set with Mike. Although this set was performed at Evil Clown Headquarters, we dramatically cut back on the size of the pallet, using only drum set, Englephone, 6 of my horns, gong, and the bass (the resources we were taking to Delaware) along with the brand new Prophet synthesizer, Brontosaurus bell and a few extra gongs.
I think you’ll agree that we gelled from the first note. Look for more of Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition, brought to you soon by Sparkles the Giant Evil Clown!!
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