On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... ​using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation."   - Squidco website staff

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs

Supernovae by PEK

by Karl  Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com

Metal Chaos Ensemble 

     - Best of MCE - 2015 to 2020


Over 25 hours of music on 26 CDs


Metal Chaos Ensemble members appearing on these albums:

PEK - clarinets, saxophones, double reeds, percussion
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, percussion
Bob Moores - space trumpet, guitar, electronics
Mike Caglianone - saxophones, percussion
Eric Woods - analog synthesis, percussion
Eric Zinman - synthesizer
Mike Gruen - bass
Albey onBass - bass
Moouse Traore - Djembe
Kevin Dacey - drums, percussion
Joey Hartigan - drums, percussion
Steve Niemitz - drums, percussion
Syd Smart - drums, percussion
Andria Nicodemou - vibraphone, percussion
Jane Wang - sound plates, mbira, metal
Bill T Miller - objects, electronics
Federico Balducci - guitar
Catherine "Axemunkee" Capozzi - guitar
Reverend Grant Beale - guitar, electronics
Joel Simches - live to 2 track recording, real real time signal processing

Liner Notes by PEK


Metal Chaos Ensemble 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 five years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown ensembles. Nearly all Metal Chaos Ensemble sessions include at least me and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests.

Evil Clown ensembles are named for a central idea/general approach rather than by a fixed line-up of musicians. As of this writing (March 2020) Metal Chaos Ensemble has released 48 albums, two of public performances and the rest recording sessions at Evil Clown Headquarters (the more recent ones LIVESTREAMED to YouTube), always with the presence of gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan bowls and many other metallic sounds and the horns of PEK. The box set contains 25 of these albums including all the recent ones and a selection from the earlier ones.

While the guests, and therefore the overall sonority, varied greatly on the earlier sets, the focus from the beginning to early 2018 was on multiple percussion players with my horns and occasional electronic elements. The very first session, Null Theory, was a duet with Yuri and me playing the much smaller array of percussion instruments available in the Arsenal as of 2015. It was immediately obvious that we would do many more sessions as MCE. The sets that followed featured percussionists Andria Nicodemou, Kevin Dacey, Joey Hartigan, and Jane Wang, along with Bob Moores (space trumpet, guitar), Bill T Miller (electronics), and Catherine “Amnunkee” Capozzi (guitar) and others whose performances are not on this box set. Since MCE dates back to the beginning of the serious heavy percussion instrument acquisition period, you can hear the palate getting broader and broader as time passes. Instruments like the heavy gongs, the orchestral chimes, the log drums, the [d]ronin, the brontosaurus and tank bells, crotales, wood blocks, Tibetan bells and bowls, and many others are gradually added to the Arsenal and investigated in this setting. All of the musicians double their primary instruments along with these “auxiliary” instruments. Dealing with such a large palate allows the ensemble to transform the sonority repeatedly over the course of our long improvisations. These early sets share the aesthetic of Leap of Faith with mostly acoustic instruments, but with a percussion focused pallet and some occurrences of groove/rock elements which never occur in Leap of Faith.

In 2018, I recruited Eric Woods who was playing with Bob Moores in the local band Fablegrazer. Eric plays analog synth, but contrary to many contemporary rock-oriented players of this instrument, is aware of the early history of European Electronic Classical Music from the 50s and 60s. When Eric joined us, the central idea/general approach of MCE started to gradually move in a new direction: More rock elements. While acquisition of percussion instruments and new horns continued, I started to get bigger mixers, more mics, signal processing electronics and electronic instruments like a good theremin, wind controller, mallet controller, several synths and other stuff. The mix consequently got a lot more complex and I engaged Joel Simches to come and engineer the sessions and add his real time signal processing skills. The ensemble size got a little bigger on average with many of the sets having 6 musicians + Joel crammed into Evil Clown Headquarters. The heavy percussion now gets set up in the kitchen to make more space in the main studio room. New players during this period include Mike Caglianone (saxophones), Federico Balducci (guitar), Eric Zinman (synth), Reverend Grant Beale (guitar & electronics), Mike Gruen & Albey onBass (bass), and Steve Niemitz & Syd Smart (drums). The addition of the excellent electric bass of first Albey onBass, and later Mike Gruen, really change the dynamic of the ensemble, reinforcing the groove element. Recent reviews by Bruce Lee Gallanter at Downtown Music Gallery compared us to Gong and Acid Mother’s Temple… very different from Leap of Faith and the early MCE period which are much more like Art Ensemble of Chicago…

Check out the Best of MCE to track the development/evolution of what is, IMHO, a unique broad palate solution to improvised music combining the worlds of pure improvisation with hard groove and free spacey electronic sections…

We now LIVE STREAM to YouTube all of the Evil Clown Headquarters recording sessions. With the help of Joel Simches at the audio mixing console and Raffi at the video mixing console, we’re pushing a real quality 8 channel Stream! Subscribe to my YouTube for notifications https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClfRlTeeHnSxRsJTkFakiJw/videos)
PEK 3/21/2020

--- Null Theory (3/21/2015) (55:46)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov
--- War Tuba (4/1/2015) (51:40)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Catherine "Axemunkee" Capozzi
--- Chrononauts (5/27/2015) (58:38)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Bill T Miller
--- Zero-Point Energy (10/7/2015) (52:45)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Kevin Dacey, Jane Wang, Andria Nicodemou
--- Intermetallic Compounds (1/22/2016) (47:05)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Andria Nicodemou
--- Luster (3/23/2017) (1:14:49)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Kevin Dacey
--- Post-Transition Elements (6/7/2017) (1:10:28)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Kevin Dacey, Joey Hartigan
--- Son of War Tuba (8/17/2017) (1:00:19)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Kevin Dacey, Bob Moores, Catherine Axmunkee Capozzi
--- Metallicity (10/12/2017) (59:49)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov
--- Grain Boundaries (1/31/2018) (1:10:17)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov
--- Shape Memory (2/15/2018) (1:10:17)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric woods, Eric Zinman, Bob Moores
--- Blast Furnace (4/12/2018) (1:09:42)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Bob Moores, Mark Woods, Joel Simches
--- Cryptomorphism (6/2/2018) (1:10:38)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric Woods, Bob Moores, Rev. Grant Beale, Joel Simchez
--- Syncretic Discipline (8/2/2018) (1:10:10)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Bob Moores, Albey onBass, Eric Woods, Federico Balducci, Joel Simches
--- Electric Universe Theory (9/7/2018) (1:10:26)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Bob Moores, Eric Woods, Joel Simches
--- Emergent Syntax (10/10/2018) (1:16:00)
PEK, Steve Niemitz
--- Electric Sword Machine (12/8/2018) (1:10:11)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric Woods, Albey onBass, Bob Moores
--- Luminiferous Aether (1/10/2019) (1:10:22)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Syd Smart, Steve Niemitz, Eric Zinman, Joel Simches
--- Beyond the Holy Mountain (2/23/2019) (1:10:51)
PEK, Bob Moores, Eric Woods, --- Reverend Grant Beale, Albey onBass, Yuri Zbitnov, Joel Simches
--- Azoth (5/23/19) (1:10:16)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Mike Gruen
--- Basilisk (2 tracks) (5/25/19) (48:09)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Mike Gruen
--- Reverberatory Furnace (5/30/19) (1:10:54)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric Woods, Moouse Traore, Joel Simches
--- Proteus 4 (7/11/2019) (1:10:10)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric Woods, Mike Gruen
--- The Nameless City (8/29/2019) (1:10:15)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Bob Moores, Eric Woods, Mike Gruen
--- Call of Cthulhu (12/5/2019) (1:10:23)
PEK, Mike Caglianone, Yuri Zbitnov, Eric Woods, Bob Moores, Mike Gruen, Joel Simches
--- The Riddle of Steel (3/5/2020) (1:09:57)
PEK, Yuri Zbitnov, Mike Gruen, Mike Caglianone, Bob Moores, Eric Woods 

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

On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Evil Clown