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 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.
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.
For this session, in addition to the Ableton mix, we also had Eric Woods on the analog synth, Bob Moores on guitar and trumpet and recording Wiz Joel Simchez mixing live-to-2-track and making real-time signal processing. This veteran ensemble has played a bunch together in different combinations with others from the Evil Clown roster, so this set is real tight. Likewise, Joel has now recorded this configuration of MCE a number of times and the resulting mix really shows off his skills, featuring an excellent stereo image with our weird sounds coming from all over the place… This band really uses a lot of the arsenal of Evil Clown instruments and the studio is now fully extended into the kitchen to make enough space – The kitchen gets the brontosaurus and tank bells, one of the big gongs, the moog synth, and the electric cello (as well as all my horns on their stands). Various ensemble members wander on in to the kitchen and use these instruments. In addition, the main room has many percussion stations set up featuring, as usual, many of metal and wood. The Ableton mix features real time and slowed down tracks I recorded on the sheng with heavy signal processing in the afternoon before the session.
This relatively new variation of the Metal Chaos Ensemble aesthetic has produced several excellent studio albums this year at Evil Clown Headquarters. Check out Syncretic Discipline, Cryptomorphisms and Blast Furnace for other MCE sessions similar to this one.
Metal Chaos Ensemble
- Electric Universe Theory
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 7 September 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 9191
Metal Chaos Ensemble
- Electric Universe Theory
1) Electric Universe Theory - 1:10:25
PEK - alto, tenor & bass saxophones, bassoon, clarinet & contraalto clarinet, moog, stylophone, [d]ronin, brontosaurus & tank bells, orchestral chimes, wood, metal, voice, Ableton mix*
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, daiko, [d]ronin, moog, electric cello, brontosaurus & tank bells, orchestral chimes, log drums, glockenspeil, balafon, wood, metal, voice
Bob Moores - space trumpet, guitar, electronics, electric cello, orhcestral chimes, voice
Eric Woods - analog synth, daiko, metal, wood
Joel Simches - real time signal processing and live to 2-track mix
*Samples from the Evil Clown Catalog or recorded at ECH
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff