On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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.
Excerpt from Bruce Lee Gallanter Review
"… Right from the first note, PEK is layering several reeds and double reeds together. I really like the way the clarinets (bass, b-flat & contrabass) sound together as PEK weaves his lines around one another in complex, twisted harmonies. PEK does a fine job of stretching out lines, bending certain notes, adding & subtracting different parts or layers as he goes… Yet another impressive undertaking by the ever-resourceful Mr. PEK”
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
"... Until the stupid virus is over and more normal interactions are possible with other people, Evil Clown will continue to create new works… PEK Solo projects, and a very select number of Leap of Faith or Metal Chaos Ensemble sets involving no more than 3 people. As usual, the chaos of the universe throws problems which require our attention. Expression must be expressed. Music must be made. The chaos of the universe demands it..."
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
3, 5, 6 August 2020
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.
The last two PEK Solo albums, Schisms and Some Truths are Known, explore adapting these orchestral ideas to compositions constructed in the studio… Some Truths are Known is an epic 4 hour work in three 80 minute movements where I use 110 different instruments. These pieces are wonderful soundscapes which move across a wide variety of sonorities, but take a great deal of work compared to the standard Evil Clown method of recording live to 2-track… For Strange Theory of Light & Matter, I decided to do something completely different. This piece is for 4 PEKs. Each PEK plays the complete duration, while listening to the previous tracks... More like how a rock record is typically prepared than my usual processes. The other big change is that I'm using only wind instruments and not the percussion, electronics and strings of Some Truths... This method allows relatively rapid production of the work, while the overdubbing permits a facsimile of normal ensemble interactions, but between PEKs. Look ahead to more solo work in each of these categories (An Orchestra of PEKs, A Quartet of PEKs) as well as some more conventional solo efforts with no overdubbing or studio construction.
Until the stupid virus is over and more normal interactions are possible with other people, Evil Clown will continue to create new works… PEK Solo projects, and a very select number of Leap of Faith or Metal Chaos Ensemble sets involving no more than 3 people. As usual, the chaos of the universe throws problems which require our attention. Expression must be expressed. Music must be made. The chaos of the universe demands it.
PEK - 8/9/2020
Setup Photos & Performance Video Grabs..
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter
- Downtown Music Gallery
PEK SOLO - A Quartet of PEKs / The Strange Theory of Light & Matter (Evil Clown 9250; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, double reeds, flutes, whistles, recorders and other wind instruments. Ever since the pandemic forced everyone inside (March of 2020) for months on end, everyone has had to adjust to new ways of dealing with life. Dave Peck a/k/a PEK is the longtime fearless leader & founder of Leap of Faith and their 1/2 dozen plus offshoot bands. What was amazing is how many live and recorded sessions he has organized with some 100+ discs out on his own Evil Clown label. Due to the pandemic and the precariousness of life, PEK has had to cancel practically every Leap of Faith gig except for a handful of sets recorded at his own abode, the Evil Clown Headquarters in Waltham, MA. Hence, most of the most recent Evil Clown releases are PEK solo offerings. I spoke with Mr. Peck on the phone recently and he says that with his extra time, he is learning to work wonders in his own studio by layering or overdubbing as he records so we can hear a few different instruments at the same time as he adds select lines to his ongoing sessions. For this sessions, PEK, who usually plays upwards of 50 instruments, concentrates on reeds and brass only, something he hasn’t done before as far as his recorded catalogue. Right from the first note, PEK is layering several reeds and double reeds together. I really like the way the clarinets (bass, b-flat & contrabass) clarinets sound together as PEK weaves his lines around one another in complex, twisted harmonies. PEK does a fine job of stretching out lines, bending certain notes, adding & subtracting different parts or layers as he goes. While PEK takes an occasional solo (bass sax or one of several clarinets), he also adds different parts selectively by overdubbing or sampling as he goes. This disc is pretty long at nearly 76 minutes so do take some time to listen to the entire endeavor. Yet another impressive undertaking by the ever-resourceful Mr. PEK.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
PEK Solo, A Quartet of PEKs
- The Strange Theory of Light & Matter
Audio CD Evil Clown 9250
PEK Solo , A Quartet of PEKs
- The Strange Theory of Light & Matter
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
August 3, 5, 6 2020
bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
The Strange Theory of Light & Matter - 1:15:41
PEK - Composition, all instruments, recording, mixing, mastering
- Clarinets (Soprano, b flat, alto, bass, contralto, contrabass)
- Saxophones (sopranino, alto, tenor, bass)
- Double Reeds (oboe, musette, shenai, nadaswaram, guanzi, english horn, contrabassoon, tenor & bass tromboon)
- Flutes & Whistles (C flute, alto flute, Christmas flute, large bamboo flute, 3 hole Russian flute, penny whistle, Ocarina)
- Recorders (alto, tenor)
- Free-reed aerophones (sheng, melodica)
- Other Winds (tarogato, wind siren, game call)
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff