Liner Notes by PEK
Every once in a while, there is a break in the crazy schedule here at Evil Clown and I have some time to do a solo album. Our grand olde pal, the Corona Virus has provided such a break in spades…. At the beginning of the year, it appeared that the year would be our busiest yet… We did a bunch of albums in January, February and the first weeks of March, and then I was forced to cancel a bunch of wonderful performances scheduled for the months that followed. So, I caught up all my old business: web site, social media, distribution, and the other non-musical activity required to drive the enterprise. Then I took a month off… my biggest rest since I started up in 2015 after my long hiatus. In mid-May I started up again, conceiving some new means of producing some of the enormous output normally achieved by Evil Clown.
I did some solo performances in the 90s period which presented a few interesting problems since I like to perform in a very long format with many instrument changes. So, I developed a few techniques for continuing the improvisations across instrument changes. Since the Evil Clown reboot in 2015, some of my solo albums have used these methods, but most of them have involved the construction of a mix of electronically processed samples. The samples are made from excerpts of performances by the various Evil Clown Ensembles and some specially recorded in the studio. The mix is completed before the solo track is added and then I make decisions in real time during the improvisation regarding whether to include the sample track or not, and if present, how loud it is relative to the solo. This was a satisfying way to meet my aesthetic intent to make all the decisions in real time – a key element of my Pure Improvisation aesthetic. I also have used similarly prepared mixes as accompaniment tracks for Metal Chaos Ensemble, Mekaniks and other Evil Clown Ensembles.
The shear amount of time made available by not working with other musicians presented opportunity for a different approach to solo records. I decided to leverage compositional concepts used in preparing my graphic scores for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. The scores layout long (75 minutes) forms using simple symbols, and English language direction on a timeline and then the orchestra interprets the directions with the aid of a large sports clock. The result is a sequence of sonorities (textures) resulting from the interpretation. The score is meant to address a fundamental problem of improvisations by large ensembles where the tendency is to produce a wall of sound with insufficient development. The resulting work is both compositional and yet fully improvised, since no melodic, harmonic or rhythmic details are specified.
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
June & July 2020
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.
Audio CD Evil Clown 9248
PEK Solo - Some Truths are Known
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
Squidco: CD Orders
- CD 1: “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you”
for Neal DeGrass Tyson - 1:18 :51
- CD 2: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge,”
for Stephen Hawking - 1:17:46
- CD 3: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing,"
for Socrates – 1:18:59
PEK -Composition, all instruments, recording, mixing, mastering
- Clarinets (soprano, b flat, g albert, alto, metal pipe bass, bass, contralto, contrabass)
- Saxophones (sopranino, soprano, bamboo soprano, alto, tenor, bari, bass)
- Double Reeds (oboe, musette, tarota, dulzaina, shenai, nadaswaram, guanzi, english horn, mini-bassoon, bassoon, contrabassoon, tenor & bass tromboon)
- Flutes & Whistles (C flute, alto flute, Christmas flute, large bamboo flute, 3 hole Russian flute, triple slide whistle, penny whistle, ney, hulusi)
- Recorders (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone)
- Free-reed aerophones (sheng, melodica, accordion, concertina)
- Other Winds (tarogato, goat horn, fog horn, kazoo, wind & crank sirens)
- Electronics (Moog subsequent, mallet kat, prophet, daxophone, [d]ronin, ms-20, ewi, signal processing, Arp Odyssey, Moog Theremin with Moogerfooger)
- Strings (electric cello, electric bass, guyzheng, yangqin)
- Percussion (tabla, ocean drum, talking drum, daiko, chains, gongs, thunder sheet, plate gong, brontosaurus and tank bells, glockenspiel, crotales, cymbells, Englephone, orchestral chimes, hand chimes, chimes, Tibetan bells & bowls, bells, temple bells, bell tree, trines, flex-a-tone, triangle, meinl galaxy, helix bowl, cymbals, finger cymbals, wah wah tube, cow bells, balafon, wood blocks, temple blocks, rachet, log drum, seed pod rattle, castanets, claves, rain stick)
- Other (aquasonic, game calls, clown horns
Liner Notes by PEK (cont...)
The last step is to perform two tracks through the entire duration with solos and some additional supporting texture. I set up a bunch of horns, electronics and percussion instruments and make many instrument changes throughout the duration. In some ways, this is very similar to a performance with other improvisors where you react in real time to the sound produced by the others and seek an ensemble equilibrium. In other ways, it is completely different, since the other sounds are previously produced, and further, I can watch the wave form on the computer screen and see dynamic events in advance of their occurrence, allowing a level of event synchronization greater than typically achieved in pure improvisation and not unlike some of the events presented in my Frame Notation Scores for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. Also, the other sounds were produced by me utilizing my phrasing approach to improvisation and it is very simple for me to imitate and interact with myself.
I was super happy with the results of my effort for Schisms before my little vacation and set out to follow up on its core concepts when I finished my rest and resumed working. So, I devised a new system for producing short pieces for the first main construction phase: I recorded many short works like before with 4 to 8 layers, but this time, I made multiple mixes of each: one with all the layers, but also several with sub-sets of the available layers. This gives an even greater selection of material for producing the primary accompaniment mix and more options for varying the density of the Phase 2 mix. In fact, I produced so much material in Phase 1, it was immediately clear that I had enough for several albums. Rather than making several records, I decided that I would compose a Trilogy: A single composition of 3 eighty-minute movements on 3 CDs. The result: Some Truths are Known…
Links to previous PEK solo releases
The Unreality of Time (2018)
Thulsa Doom (2017)
YouTube YouTube YouTube YouTube
Evil Clown Album Page
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter,
Downtown Music Gallery
PEK - SOLO - An Orchestra of PEKs - Some Truths are Known (Evil Clown 9248; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, double reeds, flutes, recorders, electronics, strings, acquasonic, game calls and a long list of exotic percussion. While we were/are all cooped up inside for the past six months, Dave PEK, the leader/founder of Leap of Faith & numerous offshoot bands, has been spending more time in his own studio and working on several solo offerings. This, the first 3 CD set on Evil Clown, consists of three long sessions recorded in June & July of 2020. Each CD/each set is around 78 or 79 minutes long! Considering that this was recorded at home in Evil Clown Headquarters, PEK has full use of his vast collections of instruments which seems to around 100 items! From the opening of CD-1 (“The Universe is Under No Obligation to Make Sense to You”), we hear layers of electronics, samples and varied percussion (gongs, rattles, toys?!?). This doesn’t not sound like a solo effort since PEK knows how to add several layers simultaneously by overdubbing or sampling or perhaps some sonic magic. There are way too many instruments to point out here but I do recognize certain familiar sounds: synth/organ, melodica, thunder sheets, bassoon, gongs & cymbals too numerous to list. This entire CD set is around 4 hours long altogether, so it will take a while to fully absorb. I am in the middle of listening to Disc 2 right now and thought CD-1 was fabulous! More mind-blowing music from the ever irrepressible PEK, this is a large dosage and something we all need to help get through these troubling times.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Liner Notes by PEK (cont...)
I realized that I could create large scale improvisational compositions for myself to perform using studio overdubbing techniques with the tools that I already had on-hand. This new compositional concept also bridges the gap between composition and improvisation, but from another direction. I devised a methodology for constructing such compositions which premiered with PEK Solo – Schisms, released in early April. I created large groups of short (2, 3 and 5 minute) improvisations with 4 to 8 tracks of overdubbing with carefully selected sets of instruments – mostly of homogeneous texture (for example: low reeds, metal percussion, all clarinets, etc.). I then selected from this large set of short pieces and arranged them in an 80-minute sequence, with some gaps in between and some layered together to create thicker textures.
The next step is to perform two tracks through the entire duration with supporting texture. These tracks each use a ton of instruments arranged all through the studio, so that I can make rapid changes in sonority to match or contrast with the prepared accompaniment mix. This is a fundamental difference from the regular studio overdubbing technique of recording single instruments for short durations – perhaps even taking many attempts to settle on a final take.
Liner Notes by PEK (cont...)
I play many instruments: Some, like saxophones, I studied formally for long periods. Others, like Sheng, I acquired and learned technique without formal training or the detailed cultural references which are ordinarily available to performers of that instrument. I call my approach to these instruments naïve, meaning that my language for that instrument is derived from my language on other families of instruments and my general aesthetic, and not through formal study. In an ordinary public or live-streaming performance I use 10 or 12 horns, some percussion selected from the huge arsenal, and perhaps some electronic or string instruments. For Some Truths are known, I used by far the biggest selection of instruments ever: I list about 110 instruments in the credits. The combination of the core compositional concepts with a such a long duration work and such a huge arsenal of instrumentation have produced my newest major work, equal in transformational capability and complexity to the 6 performances of my Frame Notation Scores for the Leap of Faith Orchestra utilizing 18 to 25 improvisors.
PEK - 7/14/2020
PEK Solo, An Orchestra of PEKs -
Some Truths are Known
Excerpt from Bruce Lee Gallanter Review
"… This entire CD set is around 4 hours long altogether, so it will take a while to fully absorb. I am in the middle of listening to Disc 2 right now and thought CD-1 was fabulous! More mind-blowing music from the ever irrepressible PEK, this is a large dosage and something we all need to help get through these troubling times.”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
"... I realized that I could create large scale improvisational compositions for myself to perform using studio overdubbing techniques with the tools that I already had on-hand. This new compositional concept also bridges the gap between composition and improvisation, but from another direction... "
"David Peck, aka PEK, took advantage of the down time from his typically busy performance schedule with the Boston-area collective of bands centered around Leap of Faith to record a number of solo performances, using a variety of reed and wind instruments and the arsenal of unusual percussive instruments at his disposal, recording the 3 full CDs of new material presented in this set."