On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE with PEK / ERIC WOODS / MIKE GRUEN / YURI ZBITNOV / JOEL SIMCHES - Proteus IV (Evil Clown 9222; USA) PEK on clarinets, saxes, moog, etc, Eric Woods on analog synth, Mike Gruen on electric bass & processing, Yuri Zbitnov on drums, percussion and Joel Simches on recording & real-time processing. The Metal Chaos Ensemble is perhaps the most prolific of all the several Leap of faith offshoot units, with some 20 or so titles under their name. This unit ranges from just the duo with longtime LoF founders: PEK and Yuri Zbitnov on up to quintets many of which include Eric Woods on analog synth.
This disc features a quintet version and was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters on July 11 of 2019, just over a month ago. Whereas early versions of the MCE (metal Chaos Ensemble) featured several members all playing different percussion, this version finds only PEK and Mr. Zbitnov playing percussion. The other three members play electronics and signal processing. Featured on this disc is a somewhat disturbing recitation by drummer, Yuri Zbitnov or PEK himself. As with most discs by LoF or their offshoots, this disc starts off slowly and builds from there, adding instruments one or two at a time. The core of this group, is reeds, el. bass and drums, which soon gets their stride by getting into a fine funky, spaced-out groove in the first section with swirling electronics and/or effects swirling around the central groove. Mr. Zbitnov’s superb, uplifting drumming is at the center of the great groove, eventually turning into more spaced out weirdness. And there back to another great space/funk groove with some swell blasting sax from our man PEK! In some ways, this disc sounds like in was inspired in part from Gong and Hawkwind. The recitation has an interesting science fiction sort of vibe as well.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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.
Metal Chaos Ensemble
- Proteus IV
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 11 July 2019
PEK Tweak of a Raffi Photo
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.
MCE has always contained more rock elements that the other Evil Clown projects. This aspect of the project has really come into focus in the sessions over the last year or two. Last May we did three rapid fire sets in 8 days with two different groove-oriented lineups. These sessions are some of the most groove-heavy sets yet, due to the driving bass of newcomer Mike Gruen on Azoth and Basilisk, and the incredible djembe of Moouse Traore on Reverberatory Furnace.
This current set is the trio with Mike Gruen plus the modular analog synth of MCE regular Eric Woods. We now LIVE STREAM to YouTube all of the Evil Clown Headquarters recording sessions. With the help of Joel Simchez at the audio mixing console and Raffi at the video mixing console, we’re pushing a real quality 4 channel Stream! Subscribe to my YouTube for notifications https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClfRlTeeHnSxRsJTkFakiJw/videos
These more groove-oriented sessions are relatively new ground for us. The solid contribution of Mike at the bass chair is really bringing us in a new direction. Make sure you check it out! Not to do so would be a serious mistake.
Audio CD Evil Clown 9222
Metal Chaos Ensemble
- Proteus IV
Squidco: CD Orders
1) Proteus IV - 1:10:10
Live YouTube Streaming
From Evil Clown Headquarters
Waltham MA, 11 July 2019
PEK - clarinet & contralto clarinet, alto, tenor & baritone saxophones, tromboon, malletkat, moog subsequent, [d]ronin, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, wood, metal, recitation
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, Englephone, gongs, crotales, brontosaurus & tank bells, wood, metal, recitation
Eric Woods - modular analong synth, Englephone
Mike Gruen - bass
Joel Simches - Live to 2 track recording, real -time signal processing
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter (full text below)
“… The core of this group, is reeds, el. bass and drums, which soon gets their stride by getting into a fine funky, spaced-out groove in the first section with swirling electronics and/or effects swirling around the central groove. Mr. Zbitnov’s superb, uplifting drumming is at the center of the great groove, eventually turning into more spaced out weirdness. And there back to another great space/funk groove with some swell blasting sax from our man PEK! In some ways, this disc sounds like in was inspired in part from Gong and Hawkwind. The recitation has an interesting science fiction sort of vibe as well…”
"The Boston-are duo of reedist PEK and percussionsit Yuri Zbitnov cover a wide range of sonorities, always with the presence of Gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan Bowls and many other metallic sounds and the horns of PEK, here in a sci-fi epic, with Eric Woods on modular synth and Englephone, Mike Gruen on bass, and Joel Simches with real-time signal processing."
- Squidco Staff
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff