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.
Audio CD Evil Clown 9249
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Don Quixote
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Let His Sin Be His Punishment, Let Him Eat It With His Bread, And Let That Be An End To It... 01:18:45
Evil Clown Headquarters
Waltham MA, July & August 2020
PEK - B flat, alto, contralto & contrabass clarinets, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, shenai, contrabassoon, bass tromboon, C, alto, large bamboo, & 3 hole Russian flutes, ocarina, goat horn, Christmas flute, recorders, game calls, wind & crank sirens, concertina, melodica, triple slide whistle, fog horn, Novation Peak, Linnstrument, MS-20, [d]ronin, accordion, concertina, sheng, melodica, Englephone, orchestral chimes, crotales, cymbells, gongs, plate gong, thunder sheet, brontosaurus & tank bells, chimes, bells, Tibetan bells & bowls, cow bells, bell tree, balafon, dan-mo, wood blocks, temple blocks, castanets, seed pod rattle, daiko, tabla, ocean drum, aquasonic, thunder tube, guyzheng, bass guitar, electric cello, aquasonic, daxophone, narration
Yuri Zbitnov - Yuri Zbitnov - drum set, Englephone, Orchestral Chimes, crotales, cymbells, gongs, plate gong, thunder sheet, brontosaurus & tank bells, chimes, bells, Tibetan bells & bowls, cow bells, balafon, dan-mo, wood blocks, temple blocks, castanets, seed pod rattle, rachet, daiko, tabla, aquasonic, [d]ronin, electric cello, wind siren, fog horn, Christmas flute, kazoo, narration
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. 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 me and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests.
The many MCE albums (48 as of this writing) have developed significantly over time. The first set, Null Theory, was a duet between PEK and Yuri. The second session, War Tuba, included guitarist Catherine Cappozi and added a rock element that was repeated occasionally during the early period. A series of albums followed where the guests were mostly percussion players. There was an early trio, Intermetallic Compounds, with the amazing vibes player Andrea Nicodemou… There was an early trio, Chrononauts, with electronic and gadget wiz Bill T Miller.
In 2018, we started down a slightly new path combining the heavy percussion, electronics, rock/groove elements with some prepared mixes created from samples in advance. Multi-instrumentalist Bob Moores appears frequently on trumpet, guitar and electronics, Albey OnBass (a Cecil Taylor alumnus) did about 5 sets, and Eric Woods shows up with his fantastic analog synth concept. Due to the increasingly complicated mix, I engaged Joel Simches to be the Evil Clown House Engineer. When Albey split for New Orleans, we found the extraordinary bassist Mike Gruen to replace him. We started to feature various text sources on each album and have more groove elements and settled on a sextet comprised of PEK, Yuri, Bob, Eric, Mike Caglianone (saxes), Mike Gruen. Of the last 4 albums, the first two are quintets in this format, and the later two add Mike C to complete the sextet, all with Joel in the live-to-two track mixing and live electronics chair.
So along comes our pal the stupid Corona Virus. Evil Clown Headquarters is jammed full of gear and 7 performers (plus Raffi on the video mixing) for these sets. I had to cancel all kinds of terrific scheduled sessions including the next MCE set… The sextet will be back as soon as it is safe, but in the meantime, I’m doing solo projects and very limited Leap of Faith small ensemble sets and MCE projects as a duet with just Yuri and me. For some of my recent solo works I have done extended prerecording/overdubbing in advance of a final solo pass over the full duration of the work. I am very proud of Some Truths are Known, a composition comprised of 3 eighty minute movements for overdubbing PEKs on 110 instruments.
So, this newest Metal Chaos Ensemble set, Don Quixote, is in some ways a culmination of the entire MCE history. It is a duet comprised of Yuri and me, it contains lots of percussion in the overdubbing, it contains rock/groove elements, in features electronics, it contains narration from Don Quixote, and it includes the studio techniques of recent PEK Solo projects. The result is something special… Check it out! Look for some more MCE sets with this general approach while we wait for this crazy virus crap to go away.
PEK – 8/31/2020
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE with PEK / YURI ZBITNOV - Don Quixote (Evil Clown 9249; USA) Recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters and featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, shenai, contrabasson, flutes, melodica, fog horn, guzheng, bass, el. cello, daxophone, narration and a wealth of percussion and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, englephone, chimes, crotales, bells, aquasonic, foghorn, kazoo and narration. After disappearing for a bit, longtime Leap of Faith drummer Yuri Zbitnov is back and is playing with just one of the offshoot units: Metal Chaos Ensemble. The Metal Chaos Ensemble are an ongoing offshoot project of Leap of Faith with PEK and Yuri Zbitnov as the most constant members. Since the pandemic started in March of 2020, PEK has had to strip things down to less members and recorded mainly at home in the Evil Clown Headquarters. For this disc PEK seems to be playing even more instruments (49!?!) than he usually does.
This long disc (nearly 80 minutes!), starts with gongs and narration which soon turns into dark, probing bass sax and powerful, ritualistic drumming. Things move into some intense, cosmic, over-the-top free/jazz blowing… ritualistic cymbals and gongs with thick echoplexed reverberations. I dig the way things flow with PEK and Zbitnov always working tightly together. PEK & Zbitnov work their way through different saxes, clarinets, melodica, thunder sheet, short bits of narration and a variety of odd percussion. This is a long journey through a series of cosmic scenes which slowly evolve. There are some scary and even dark sections on this long disc yet it works well as a whole.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter,
Downtown Music Gallery
“Things move into some intense, cosmic, over-the-top free/jazz blowing… ritualistic cymbals and gongs with thick echoplexed reverberations. I dig the way things flow with PEK and Zbitnov always working tightly together…. a long journey through a series of cosmic scenes which slowly evolve. There are some scary and even dark sections on this long disc…”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Liner Notes by PEK (full text below)
“… So, this newest Metal Chaos Ensemble set, Don Quixote, is in some ways a culmination of the entire MCE history. It is a duet comprised of Yuri and me, it contains lots of percussion in the overdubbing, it contains rock/groove elements, in features electronics, it contains narration from Don Quixote, and it includes the studio techniques of recent PEK Solo projects. The result is something special… Check it out! Look for some more MCE sets with this general approach while we wait for this crazy virus crap to go away."
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“An epic journey through diverse improvisational approaches within a composed framework, using heavy percussion of unusual & world origins, electronics, rock/groove elements and prepared mixes created from samples, from the Boston duo of David Peck (PEK) on reeds & an arsenal of devices & sources, and Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion, with narration points along the way.”
- Squidco Staff
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs
by Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com
PEK Tweak of a Video Grab
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 - Don Quixote
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
Intermediate Mixes - July & August 2020
Final duet pass - 29 August 2020
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG