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 by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE With PEK / BOB MOORES / ERIC WOODS / JOEL SIMCHES / YURI ZBITNOV - Blast Furnace (Evil Clown 9175; USA) Featuring Pek on clarinets, tenor & bass saxes, musette, tarogato, English horn, dax & percussion, Bob Moores on trumpet, guitar & electric cello, Eric Woods on analog synth and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, balafon & assorted percussion plus Joel Simches on processing. Recorded at the Evil Clown Headquarters in April of 2018. Leap of Faith and their various offshoot projects record prolifically. The Metal Chaos Ensemble are just one of several subgroups and have more than a dozen discs out. Each version of Metal Chaos has longtime LoF members Pek & Yuri Zbitnov, plus Bob Moores & Eric Woods, the special guest here is Joel Simches who processes their sound as it is created. The name of the band refers to the fact that all or most members play (metal) percussion at some point. Certain sounds or instruments are difficult to tell apart: guitar or analog synth or both at the beginning of this session? Haunting echoed sounds and soft metal percussion is what we hear in the first section. Like all LoF discs, this is well-recorded and balanced. PEK switches between more than a dozen instruments, mostly reeds, some obscure, some not, often concentrating on one at a time. PEK and Bob Moores (on trumpet, el. guitar & cello), are upfront, taking their time soloing apart and together while the synth & percussion create a mysterious cushion underneath. Things here unfold slowly and build organically, rarely getting too dense. There are some minimal weird vocals midway which don’t last for very long, otherwise this is one of most restrained and still engaging on other levels… There is one rather tribal sections with some great drumming from the ever—great Yuri Zbitnov pounding it out powerfully along with some hypnotic synth. Still, consistently spirited throughout! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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 three years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown bands. 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.
Recently, I have been using the Ableton software to create electronic mixes which we use in several of the bands as an accompaniment track. In performance, I ride the fader from off to very present, but most of the time more to the background. Raw samples are taken from the Evil Clown Catalog and also specially recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters with instruments drawn from the Evil Clown arsenal. I then use Adobe Audition to process the samples and finally Ableton to assemble a timeline and create a mix. Most of the more recent MCE sessions use one of these mixes.
Along with MCE founders Yuri and PEK and an Ableton mix, this set features special guests Bob Moores on trumpet and guitar and Eric Woods on analog synth. As we have added additional resources to the Arsenal, the Signal Processing and new instruments have increased the complexity of the mix. We welcome Joel Simchez on this session to run the live to 2 track mix and perform real time Signal Processing. Joel’s presence really enabled us to up the ante on the set up and we used basically every input on the mixers for some
signal in the room
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Blast Furnace
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 12 April 2018
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.
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Audio CD Evil Clown 9175
Metal Chaos Ensemble
- Blast Furnace
1) Pig Iron - 1:09:42
Evil Clown Headquarters,
PEK - clarinet & bass clarinet, tenor & bass saxophones, mussette, tarota, English horn, electric cello, [d]ronin, daxophone, ms-20, orchestral chimes, electric kazoo, wood, metal, Ableton mix*
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, log drums, balafon, [d]ronin, electric kazoo, metal, wood, hand chimes
Bob Moores - trumpet, guitar, electric cello, hand chimes, voice
Eric Woods - analog synth
Joel Simches - real time signal processing and live to 2-track mix
*Samples from the Evil Clown Catalog or recorded at ECH
“… The name of the band refers to the fact that all or most members play (metal) percussion at some point. Certain sounds or instruments are difficult to tell apart: guitar or analog synth or both at the beginning of this session? Haunting echoed sounds and soft metal percussion is what we hear in the first section. Like all LoF discs, this is well-recorded and balanced. PEK switches between more than a dozen instruments, mostly reeds, some obscure, some not, often concentrating on one at a time…”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG