On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
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.
Exploring chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, this is an extended septet version of the Boston free improvising ensemble in a complex improvisatory journey of reeds, synths and percussion, performed by PEK on reeds, Mike Caglianone on saxophones, Boob Moores on trumpet & keyboards, Mike Gruen on bass, Steve Niemitz on drums and real time signal processing from Joel Simches.
Liner Notes by PEK (full text below)
“… I knew that I needed another special drummer, someone who could groove with Mike, and also leave the drum set and play the percussion from the arsenal. These are fundamental ideas that allow enough Transformation over the very long length of these rock improvisations. I reached out to drummer Steve Niemitz who I have played with 5 or 6 times in the last 5 years in the Leap of Faith and Leap of Faith Orchestra ensembles... Steve now lives in Holyoake MA which is about an hour and a half from Evil Clown Headquarters, but he has agreed to take Yuri’s seat in the regular sextet MCE at about one YouTube broadcast every other month. Anyway, this first session of the new sextet configuration went very well with Steve... I’m super happy with this album and I bet you like it too…"
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
- Tinier Even than Science
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 17 June 2021
PEK Tweak of a Video Grab
PEK Photos & video grabs
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 over 50 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.
MCE has had many different configurations over the years varying from duet with just Yuri and myself to sextet. Albey OnBass (a Cecil Taylor alumnus) played the electric bass on some of the more rock oriented larger group efforts in 2018. In late 2018, I was offered the opportunity to do an April 2019 event in Delaware as part of a psychedelic rock show in a nice downtown venue. The original plan was to do a trio with Albey, Yuri & me, but Albey had an opportunity to relocate to New Orleans which was too good to pass up, so Yuri and I looked for another electric bass player to fill Albey’s huge shoes… Basically, we planned to present MCE as a rock Power Trio, with a bare minimum of gear…
We found Mike Gruen, an excellent rock bass player, with whom Yuri had played previously in a very different context. Mike was excited to play improvisational music less regimented than the song-form music he typically plays and Yuri was excited to play with a deep groove bass player. Anyway, we got together a few days prior to the Delaware gig to prepare at Evil Clown Headquarters and recorded Azoth. That weekend we did the Delaware show which was released as Basilisk. Those two releases are the first recordings of the Power Trio Edition of MCE…
The next MCE sessions saw the finalization of the newer sextet lineup of MCE with Yuri, myself, Mike, Bob Moores (trumpet, guitar, electronics), Eric Woods (analog synthesis), Mike Caglianone (saxes) and Joel Simches at the live-to-two-track mix. These 2019 sets include Proteus 4, The Nameless City, and Call of Cthulu. Early in March 2020, we did The Riddle of Steel, just as the stupid virus was taking off. I was really looking forward to exploring this sextet MCE ensemble for many sets in 2020 (MCE has done 8-10 albums per year since 2015), but I canceled everything that we had planned and basically locked Evil Clown down.
During the pandemic, Yuri decided that he wished to withdraw from Evil Clown projects. I was disappointed to lose such a talented player from the roster, but these things happen in all musical endeavors, and we must be prepared to continue the work in the face of setbacks. I was worried that losing a founding member and guiding force of this band would mean that I would need to retire this project – which would have been a huge shame, since this music is fun to play and very well received by reviewers and audience.
I knew that I needed another special drummer, someone who could groove with Mike, and also leave the drum set and play the percussion from the arsenal. These are fundamental ideas that allow enough Transformation over the very long length of these rock improvisations. I reached out to drummer Steve Niemitz who I have played with 5 or 6 times in the last 5 years in the Leap of Faith and Leap of Faith Orchestra ensembles. We also were slated to do a Metal Chaos Ensemble trio set with Yuri called Emergent Syntax (2018), but Yuri had car trouble and Steve and I did that session as a duet with an Ableton Mix accompaniment. This is the only MCE album until now without Yuri at the drums.
Steve now lives in Holyoake MA which is about an hour and a half from Evil Clown Headquarters, but he has agreed to take Yuri’s seat in the regular sextet MCE at about one YouTube broadcast every other month. Anyway, this first session of the new sextet configuration went very well with Steve and to my relief MCE can continue without having to spend extensive effort to locate a drummer who is a good fit.
I’m super happy with this album and I bet you like it too…
PEK – 6/19/2021
Tinier Even Than Science- 1:10:25
LIVESTREAMED to YouTube
From Evil Clown Headquarters
Waltham MA, 17 June 2021
PEK - clarinet, alto & contralto clarinets, alto & tenor saxophones, piccolo oboe, flute, bass ocarina, novation peak, prophet, syntrix, moog subsequent, imperium LFO synth, [d]ronin, spring boxes, chime boxes, electric chimes, electric kalimba, Tibetan bells & bowls, gongs, plate gong, crotales, orchestral chimes, almglocken, brontosaurus & tank bells, narration
Bob Moores - Bob Moores - large bell pocket trumpet, baritone electric guitar, efx, soft synthesizers on laptop, ampkit, mini-synth, prophet, voice
Mike Caglianone - Mike Caglianone – soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, wind siren, seed pod rattles, chime boxes, spring boxes, electric chimes, almglocken, xylophone, wood blocks, chimes, orchestral chimes, tank bells, Tibetan Bowls, plate gong
Eric Woods - analog synthesis, gong
Mike Gruen - purple sparkles electric bass, signal processing
Steve Niemitz - drums, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, xylophone, seed pod rattle, gongs, plate gong, bell tree, spring boxes, chime boxes, electric kalimba, Tibetan bowls, cymbalum, cyclops circular harp, brontosaurus & tank bells, cow bells, almglocken, temple bell, chimes, crank siren, castanets, crotales
Joel Simches - Live to 2 track recording, real -time signal processing