Evil Clown 

PEK Solo - Precedents

Review By Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

PEK - Solo Precedents (Evil Clown 9238; USA) This is a rare solo effort from PEK, fearless leader of Leap of Faith and their many offshoot projects. Considering that there are more than 100 releases on the Evil Clown label between Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensembles & Turbulence, the PEK solo efforts are the rarest of the big batch. This is also a two disc set, another rarity for the Evil Clown label. On the first disc, PEK limits himself to 1 (plus loops) to 5 instruments, instead of the usual mass of 20-25 instruments that he has collected over time and plays on most Leap of Faith sessions. For the first piece, “Events”, PEK plays just bass tromboon with multiple effects and a gong. From what I can tell that unique hybrid instrument looks like a bass trombone with a bassoon’s double reed attached. The gong comes first and then a series of brass/reed (an odd blend of sonorities) tones and drones which are extended and manipulated with effects/delays. The central sound here is slowly repeated, the odd/blend sound is carefully stretched out, the effects or delay adding a most mysterious aura. On “Precursors”, PEK plays several flutes, slide whistle & a gong with delays & effects. He does a good job of taking his time, concentrating on one flute or whistle and occasionally looping or adding effects. The third long piece, “Antecedents” features just contrabass clarinet again with loops and or effects. The contrabass clarinet is large and unwieldy (check out how it looks) and difficult to play. It seems that more folks are playing it over the past few years: Josh Sinton, Ben Goldberg and John McCowen, to name a few. It does have a unique deep-toned low-end sound. We can now add PEK to that list as he works his way through the range of sounds on that large, difficult reed thing. PEK often plays just a long grumble-sounding tone while slowly adding the occasional gong or another layer of the odd bent-note reed sound with loops or delays. For the second disc here, PEK brings his arsenal of some 25 instruments, mostly reeds & odd percussion, as well as daxophone, loops, effects and samples. This disc is quite long, nearly 72 minutes of non-stop exploration. Although it is a solo effort, PEK does use loops, delays, effects and adds samples of his previous solo efforts found on Disc One. Again, PEK takes his time concentrating on one instrument at a time, often odd instruments like contrabassoon, taragato, mussette, brontosaurus bells and sheng. There is a good balance between the single instruments, loops and samples, which PEK has refined over time, knowing when to bring in or add effect, loops or samples. 72 minutes seems like a long time but the thing is many of us do have some time on our hands, staying at home and trying be safe. This is an exercise in patience and endurance which I think does work well. Just have to sit still and not be distracted by the usual BS. The rewards are great!

- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG                

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs

Supernovae by PEK

by Karl  Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com

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.

​​​Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA

12, 21, 25 January & 22 February 2020

Excerpt from Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

“… PEK takes his time concentrating on one instrument at a time, often odd instruments like contrabassoon, taragato, mussette, brontosaurus bells and sheng. There is a good balance between the single instruments, loops and samples, which PEK has refined over time, knowing when to bring in or add effect, loops or samples…   The rewards are great!”  - Bruce Lee Gallanter


​Squidco Blurb 

"Two discs of solo work from Boston-area reedist, composer and Evil Clown collective leader David Peck (PEK), the first CD with 3 tracks, each focusing on a unique instrument from David Peck's large arsenal, in this case the bass tromboon, a C flute and a contrabass clarinet; the second a large improvisation using a mix from the first recordings along with live signal processing."


Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes

"Occasionally there is a break in the Evil Clown calendar, and I have a little time for a solo session. In the 90s, I did solo performances occasionally - which presented several challenges. I like to work in a long form with lots of instrument changes, so I came up with several tricks for rapidly changing horns while continuing the improvisation....."


YouTube Video...

​​​Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA

12, 21, 25 January & 22 February 2020

2 Audio CDs                                    Evil Clown 9238

PEK Solo - Precedents


Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA

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Squidco  CD Orders


1. Events (bass tromboon) 28:19
2. Precursors 20:50
3. Antecedents 28:19
4. Precedents 01:11:50 


PEK - All instruements


Disc 1
1) Events - 28:20 (1/12/2020) - bass tromboon, gong, loop pedal, delay, effects, voice
2) Precursors – 20:50 (1/21/2020) - flute, alto flute, gong, Russian wood flute, slide whistles, loop pedal, delay, Ableton mix
3) Antecedents – 28:19 (1/25/2020) - contrabass clarinet, loop pedal, delay

Disc 2
4) Precedents – 1:11:50 (2/22/2020) - clarinet & contrabass clarinet, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, mussette, tarota, contrabassoon, bass tromboon, C flute, Russion wood flute, Christmas flute, sheng, game calls, gongs, bell tree, brontosaurus & tank bells, bells, Englephone, crotales, cymbells, trine, chimes, d[ronin], daxophone, loop pedal, delay, Ableton Mix* *Samples from 1-3 and the Evil Clown Catalog



Liner Notes by PEK

Occasionally there is a break in the Evil Clown calendar, and I have a little time for a solo session. In the 90s, I did solo performances occasionally - which presented several challenges. I like to work in a long form with lots of instrument changes, so I came up with several tricks for rapidly changing horns while continuing the improvisation...

In 2019, made 3 new PEK Solo albums as I have continued to extend the Evil Clown pallet. One of these, Closed & Open Universes, uses a format which is repeated here and will be a template for some of my future solo projects. The two-disc package has three tracks on Disc 1, each featuring a particular instrument which are sampled and used as source material for signal processing and assembly in an Ableton Mix. The second disc is a full-length work using the Ableton mix as an accompaniment track…

I buy my more expensive horns typically from a place called Pro-Winds that has a very reasonable financing arrangement with a bank in the Midwest. When I can pay off one of these loans, I take out a new one and get one or several new horns. For 2020, I purchased a bass tromboon, a C flute and a contrabass clarinet. I’m making 3
Disc 1 tracks featuring each of these new instruments for the first PEK Solo record for 2020.

As I radically expanded the sound pallet for myself and Evil Clown starting in 2015, I stumbled across the idea of tromboon... Peter Schikile (PDQ Bach) made classical humor albums in the 70s (I think) which I knew of in the 80s... Anyhow, he had this idea to put a bassoon bocal and reed on the trombone. His intent was comical, but I was immediately attracted to the idea, since I play bassoon and other double reeds and have a great deal of control of the harmonics and multiphonics obtainable from a bassoon reed. Anyway, I purchased on Ebay a cheap tenor trombone and a cheap bass trombone so that I could explore this hybrid horn... The bass tromboon in particular provides additional options for intervalic motion from the valves changing the root note for the horn. This is helpful since, while the reed produces rich harmonics and multiphonics very different then the ordinary trombone sound, there are fewer distinct clean overtones available like the ones available to the trombone with a conventional trombone mouthpiece.

Now, several years later, I have used the tromboon or the bass tromboon in many performances with Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensemble and the other Evil Clown ensembles... For this year, I decided to get a professional horn (Bach Stradivarius 50B3 Bass Trombone) to upgrade the bass tromboon, to get a better sound and greater durability from the instrument...

Although I played the flute in concert band in high school and later acquired a student flute which I eventually gave to Raqib Hassan, I always really focused on single and double reeds and never really developed the flute. Several of the reed players in the roster do use flute(s) and I have been wanting to extend my pallet into these sounds to interact with other flutes. Two years ago, I bought a nice alto flute from Pro-Winds, and I have had a number of wooden/bamboo flutes from various cultures, but I have never had a professional grade flute like the Yamaha I ordered this year.

I have always loved low clarinets, I swapped one of my saxophones for a contrabass clarinet shortly after Berklee in the early 90s. I got a Leblanc shaped like a huge paperclip, which is a nice sounding instrument, but which is awkward to hold and has a peg arrangement which I never really liked. As I expanded my horns after the 2015 reboot, I got a contralto clarinet which is a straight horn that rests on the floor. Despite the loss of the bottom half octave, I have been using this axe as my primary low clarinet, and the contrabass has gone underutilized. The new horn is a straight clarinet with a very long return at the top of the instrument and does not have the awkwardness of the horn it replaces. I will use this going forward as my primary low clarinet. I love this lowest register which is unique to my horns except for the contrabassoon… I’m really not interested in the contrabass saxophone due to its size and weight…

A couple of weeks after I recorded tracks 1-3, I found the time to create an Ableton mix from those three recordings and other samples from the Evil Clown Catalog. For the session, I set up half the studio with the gongs and some of the other heavy metal percussion, and the other half with about 10 of my horns. I used the Ableton Mix and the Loop Station with the daxophone as the sound source. I control both of these sound sources in real time, riding the faders to create sections with both, one, or none of them as accompaniment for my solo. Each of these options is a solution for suspended sounds that provide sufficient time to make instrument changes. Also available are gongs, chimes and [d]ronin which have long decays.


PEK – 2/23/2020

PEK Solo - Precedents

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

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