On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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.
We were 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 relocate 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 would not be able to pull it off.
So, we conducted a quick search for another electric 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. We had Mike over to Evil Clown Headquarters for a warmup set for the Vermin Supreme show a few days before and we really hit it off!
It is a long drive from Boston to Wilmington and our set was the first in a long string of acts for the night. Yuri and I left at 9 am to make it in plenty of time for our 4:30 start time since it was the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, and we anticipated traffic getting around NYC. Mike traveled separately, since he had a church gig the following morning, but somehow we got the times all confused and he thought our start time was 6:00 pm. While on the road we talked via cell and realized he was about 90 minutes behind us. Mike drove like a mad man to make up lost time, but still did not quite make the early start. Yuri and I did about 30 minutes of duet while we waited and then when Mike showed up, we got him on stage as fast as possible and did a shorter second set to complete our hour. Then Mike turned around and drove right back home…
While we were disappointed that Mike missed a chunk of the show, when he arrived after 6 hours of frantic driving, he mounted the stage in a frenzy. The Serpent King demonstrates what a real Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition can deliver!! The flow of the whole set is still excellent, and actually has a nice shape with 2/3 duet followed by 1/3 trio at a whole other energy level. Look for more of Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition, brought to you soon by Sparkles the Giant Evil Clown!!
Review Excerpt from
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery (full text below)
“… Like most discs by LoF or Metal Chaos, this begins quietly, slowly and builds from there. The ever mighty drummer, Yuri Zbitnov, sounds great and is at the center of trio whipping up a rhythmic storm. PEK concentrates on one reed at a time, with inspired solos on bass sax, regular & contralto clarinets, and the other two saxes. Since PEK has fewer reeds to choose from, his solos are longer, giving us time to appreciate each one… This is one is very organic and flows superbly throughout. 4 & 1/2 stars!”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
"Formed in 2015 by reedist and multi-instrumentalist David Peck and percussionist Yuri Zbitnov to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, using the now extended arsenal of exotic percussion instruments the collective has amassed in this 2-part album with Mike Gruen on electric bass creating a power trio of unusual rhythmic intention."
Audio CD Evil Clown 9217
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Basilisk
Squidco: CD Orders
1) The Effluvium of the Weasel - 32:13
2) The Serpent King - 15:55
PEK - 1, 2) alto, tenor & bass saxophones, clarient & contralto clarinet, tarota, gong
Yuri Zbitnov - 1,2) drums, Englephone
Mike Gruen - 2) bass
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE With PEK / MIKE GRUEN / YURI ZBITNOV - Basilisk (Evil Clown 9217; USA) Featuring PEK on alto, tenor & bass saxes, clarinets, taragato & gong, Mike Gruen on bass and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & Englephone. This was recorded live at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware in May of 2019. This is the smallest version of the Metal Chaos Ensemble, just a trio with the two founding Leap of Faith members: PEK and Yuri Zbitnov. This disc is dedicated to someone named Vermin Supreme, who looks like a viking and is wearing a rubber boot on his head?!? The majority of the 100 CD’s from Leap of Faith and their half dozen offshoots bands were recorded in the Boston area, expect for a couple of discs recorded on a trio to NYC at DMG and The Spectrum. This makes this disc a rarity since it was recorded in Delaware. Another rare occurrence is PEK only playing six reeds & a gong and Mr. Zbitnov just playing drums and something called an Englephone. Like most discs by LoF or Metal Chaos, this begins quietly, slowly and builds from there. The ever mighty drummer, Yuri Zbitnov, sounds great and is at the center of trio whipping up a rhythmic storm. PEK concentrates on one reed at a time, with inspired solos on bass sax, regular & contralto clarinets, and the other two saxes. Since PEK has fewer reeds to choose from, his solos are longer, giving us time to appreciate each one. Some of the Metal Chaos Ensemble sessions can be over the top and demanding to hear at length. This is one is very organic and flows superbly throughout. 4 & 1/2 stars!
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Shelby Sachs Photo
Metal Chaos Ensemble
The Queen, Wilmington DE - 25 May 2019
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