Metal Chaos Ensemble - Syncretic Discipline
Evil Clown Headquarters - 2 August 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.
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 myself and Yuri as a duet, or along with a whole bunch of different guests in a larger unit.
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.
In addition to the Ableton mix we also had Eric Woods on the analog synth, Bob Moores on guitar and trumpet, Albey onBass on electric bass, and newbie Federico Balducci on guitar. Handling the live to 2 track mix and providing real-time signal processing is Joel Simches.
This variation of Metal Chaos Ensemble is part of a relatively new direction featuring more rock elements, looping, samples, electronics, etc. than typical in most of the Evil Clown catalog… This trend has been developing for the last couple of years on some of the MCE sessions, and this one really cooks, so check it out!!
Review Excerpt (Full Review Below)
" ... The first section sounds like a Gong space jam, most eerie and dream-like. Eventually PEK’s mutant contra-alto (?) clarinet floats in, rumbling & squawking softly. The density of the sounds is carefully pulsating, somber throbbing bass at the center until the drums finally hit a great space-rock groove, which builds a bit before settling down to a more restrained section… The Metal Chaos Ensemble now have more than a dozen discs under their collective belt. Each one is strong in its own way..."
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
"PEK and Yuri Zbitnov lead the Metal Chaos Ensemble, here in a septet rendering of this Boston-area free improvising group that embraces an impressive arsenal of percussive, electronic and acoustic instruments, using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation."
- Squidco website Staff
METAL CHAOS ENSEMBLE with PEK / YURI ZBITNOV / et al - Syncretic Discipline (Evil Clown 9188; USA) Personnel: PEK on alto, tenor & bass saxes, clarinets, Moog, taragato & percussion, Bob Moores on trumpets, balafon & electric cello, Eric Woods on analog synth, wood & metal, Albey on bass, Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion and Joel Simches on processing. The two consistent members of the Metal Chaos Ensemble are PEK and Yuri Zbitnov, both longtime members of Leap of Faith and their varied offshoots. This version of Metal Chaos has less electronics (& more regular instruments) outside of some Moog, analog synth and live processing. Pretty quickly things take off into outer space with rumbling synth, spacey guitar & electric bass and cymbals & gongs. The first section sounds like a Gong space jam, most eerie and dream-like. Eventually PEK’s mutant contra-alto (?) clarinet floats in, rumbling & squawking softly. The density of the sounds is carefully pulsating, somber throbbing bass at the center until the drums finally hit a great space-rock groove, which builds a bit before settling down to a more restrained section. And then building back up to an intense eruption with some burning trumpet from Mr. Moores over an intense rocking rhythm team. When PEK switches to that taragto or double reeds, the sound becomes middle-eastern in part. The Metal Chaos Ensemble now have more than a dozen discs under their collective belt. Each one is strong in its own way. We just to find some time (around 70 minutes) to listen these in their entirety. When will the deluge of releases on Evil Clown subside, probably not anytime soon. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Audio CD Evil Clown 9188
Metal Chaos Ensemble - Syncretic Discipline
bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Syncretic Discipline- 1:10:10
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 8/2/2018
PEK - alto, tenor & bass saxophones, clarinet & contraalto clarinet, tarota, moog, electric cello, (D)ronin, gongs, brontosaurus Bell, Ableton mix*
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, crotales, metal wood, (D)ronin, gongs, brontosaurus Bell
Albey onBass - electric bass
Federico Balducci - guitar
Joel Simches - real time signal processing and live to 2-track mix
* Samples from the Evil Clown Catalog