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.
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter,
Downtown Music Gallery
TPEK - Solo - Schism (Evil Clown 9246; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, piccolo, saxes, guanzi, mussette, flutes, melodica, accordion, Korg, theremin, daxophone, balafon, game calls, mallet kat, Abelon mixes and a ton of assorted percussion. Last year PEK’s label Evil Clown passed the 100 mark of compact discs and is now closer to 125 releases. While most of the releases are varied versions of his ongoing ensemble, Leap of Faith, there are many offshoot projects as well. One of the infrequent discs are PEK’s solo discs. Like most his previous solo discs, this was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters. Mr. PEK is known to be a collector of many different reeds, percussion, synths and other odd instruments and here he plays nearly 60 different sound making items. Although this is a solo project, PEK loves to add layers of sounds with synths, resonating percussion and overdubbing (Abelon mix?). This disc opens with suspense-filled gongs, other throbbing percussion and a double reed of some sort (mussette perhaps). PEK does a fine job of looping certain sounds, bari or bass sax, gongs, rubbed percussion surfaces, synths and creating a hypnotic blend. There seems to be a few looped lines of parts going on at once while PEK plays a solo on top. PEK does a marvelous job throughout this disc of keeping things interesting and engaging, whether dense or calm, cool or agitated, noisy or beyond noisy into some more extreme areas. This disc is 79 minutes long and I listened to the entire thing today (9/3/20). It is pretty amazing for the entire length. A solo effort par excellence.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Excerpt from Bruce Lee Gallanter Review
(Downtown Music Gallery)
"... PEK does a marvelous job throughout this disc of keeping things interesting and engaging, whether dense or calm, cool or agitated, noisy or beyond noisy into some more extreme areas. This disc is 79 minutes long and I listened to the entire thing today (9/3/20). It is pretty amazing for the entire length. A solo effort par excellence." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
"The other night I did the solo tracks for the new PEK Solo - Schism album I worked on during March and the first week of April.... I did all the solos in a massive 5 hour session last Thursday. The whole structure of this work is fundamentally different than my previous solo albums and other pieces performed in larger ensembles with computer accompaniment..."
Approaching his solo work with new compositional strategies, multi-reedist and percussionist David Peck uses time and texture as the principal organizational elements in 9 pre-mixed recordings over which PEK was allowed more flexibility and freedom in instrumental choice during performance, using a vast collection of instruments in dramatic improvisations.
Audio CD Evil Clown 9246
PEK Solo - Schism
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
Squidco: CD Orders
Pre-mix 1 - recorders, flutes & bass tromboon (download bonus track)
Pre-mix 2 - saxophones (download bonus track) - 5:08
Pre-mix 3 - Tibetan Bowls, metal (download bonus track) - 5:36
Pre-mix 4 - electronics (download bonus track) - 5:36
Pre-mix 5 - Englephone, metal (download bonus track) - 5:14
Pre-mix 6 - wood (download bonus track) - 4:56
Pre-mix 7 - low clarinets (download bonus track) - 5:04
Pre-mix 8 - low double reeds (download bonus track) - 4:52
Pre-mix 9 - sheng. melodica, accordian (download bonus track) - 4:31
PEK - All instruements
clarinet, piccolo, contralto & contrabass clarinets, sopranino, soprano, bamboosoprano, alto, tenor, baritone & bass saxophones, guanzi, mussette, English horn, tarota, bassoon & contrabassoon, bass tromboon, recorders, C flute, alto flute, bamboo flute, Christmas flute, sheng, melodica, accordian, [d]ronin, bass guitar, mallet kat, moog subsequent, arp odyssey, Korg MS-20, theremin with moogerfooger, prophet synth, daxophone guzheng, yangqin, aquasonic, crank siren, game calls, Englephone, gongs, Tibentan bowls, brontosaurus & tank bells, crotatles, glockenspiel, thunder sheet, orchestral chimes, gongs, cymbells, trine, chimes, log drums, wood blocks, temple blocks, castenets, seed pod rattles, balafon, Ableton mixes
PEK Solo - Schism
Liner Notes by PEK
The other night I did the solo tracks for the new PEK Solo - Schism album I worked on during March and the first week of April....
I did all the solos in a massive 5 hour session last Thursday. The whole structure of this work is fundamentally different than my previous solo albums and other pieces performed in larger ensembles with computer accompaniment...
In the past I have taken samples from the Evil Clown catalog and specially recorded samples. I have then taken those samples and subjected them to digital transformations with audio editing software. I then combine those samples in the Ableton software. Once I have built these up into long album length mixes, I take several of them and create a full length Ableton program with multiple channels. In performance, I ride the faders and alternate between no prerecorded elements, one element, several elements or all the elements. Those decisions are made during the performance.
The decision making during the performance is essentially the same as regular improvisation, with the shape of the piece determined in real time. I've been using Ableton to make these mixes for the last 3 years or so and I've become pretty proficient with the software. I like this process which is very efficient.
When the corona virus fired up and I cancelled all of my planned sessions for March and April, it opened up a lot of time in the Evil Clown calendar... I decided to make a completely different structured solo work with Ableton. I have never really used traditional studio overdubbing as a means for creating my music.
I started by making 9 different approximately 5 minute premixes, each featuring a different group of similar instruments and containing between 4 and 8 channels. I arranged them in a 79 minute sequence with plenty of space in between. Next I did two passes through the entire piece with different groups of instruments: the first pass with gongs, electronics and the [d]ronin, and the second pass with aquasonic, guzhen, yangqin and bass guitar. I added two recent full length Ableton mixes: one predominantly from contrabassoon samples and one predominantly from contrabass clarinet samples. I made a mix with all of these sources and then I used that as the accompaniment track for the solos.
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
Intermediate mixes March and April 2020
Solos - 8 April 2020
Video Grabs of Solo Recording Takes..
Links to previous PEK solo releases
The Unreality of Time (2018)
Thulsa Doom (2017)
YouTube YouTube YouTube YouTube
Evil Clown Album Page
Photos of Pre-Mix Instruments...
I made a list of all the different sections earlier in the week. I assigned different instruments in groups to the different parts of the work in the small (less than 5 minutes) sections. Thursday, I used this map to record 5 minutes or so at a time, setting up the instruments and adjusting the recording settings between takes.
As a consequence of the recording being spread across many occasions, I was free to draw on many more of the Evil Clown Arsenal of instruments than I typically use for a single performance. Here is the list of instruments (about 60) I played:
PEK - clarinet, piccolo, contralto & contrabass clarinets, sopranino, soprano, bamboo soprano, alto, tenor, baritone & bass saxophones, tarota, guanzi, mussette, English horn, bassoon & contrabassoon, bass tromboon, recorders, C flute, alto flute, bamboo flute, Christmas flute, sheng, melodica, accordian, [d]ronin, bass guitar, mallet kat, moog subsequent, arp odyssey, Korg MS-20, theremin with moogerfooger, prophet synth, daxophone guzheng, yangqin, aquasonic, crank siren, game calls, Englephone, gongs, Tibetan bowls, brontosaurus & tank bells, crotatles, glockenspiel, thunder sheet, orchestral chimes, gongs, cymbells, trine, chimes, log drums, wood blocks, temple blocks, castenets, seed pod rattles, balafon, Ableton mixes
I found the experience strangely between my ordinary practice of pure improvisation (all recorded in real time) and my compositional practice when composing Frame Notation Scores for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. Both formats use time and texture as the principal organizational elements and involved transformations through a broad range of sonorites. Since I did not make multiple attempts for any of the many tracks and sections, all of the recorded material is used in the final product.
I found several advantages to recording with this method:
1) For me, free improvisation is primarily structured by the phrasing and texture of sound produced by the musicians. When playing against previous tracks recorded by me, I am phrasing with myself, far simpler than reading phrasing cues from the other performers.
2) I know what I performed on previous tracks, and make my decisions on instrumentation and general approach prior to each take, rather than in real time during performance.
3) I can watch the wav forms on the monitor and see in advance when big events occur, guiding decisions on the overdubs on lining up with previously performed events. There is a lot of this kind of coordination in the Frame Notation Scores.
One odd consequence of this methodology is that unlike nearly every other Evil Clown project, the final steps are not done in a continuous fashion, but rather overdubbed in sections. Therefore, I will not have a regular video of the performance. I decided to video record with my 4k camera and extract stills. The YouTube video with be sequences of these stills arranged with the music....
I selected some of the extracted images to include with this post.
Look for bandcamp and YouTube sometime over this weekend!
.PEK – 4/10/20
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - 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