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.
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
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
SUB-UNIT NO. 1 with PEK / MICHAEL KNOBLACH - Main Sequence (Evil Clown 9235; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, guanzi, contrabassoon, melodica, games calls & loads of percussion and Michael Knoblach on frame drum, tambourine, gong, rattles, sistrum, assorted odd percussion too lengthy to mention. One of the great things about Leap of Faith founder, Dave PEK, is his ability to find all sorts of kindred spirits, Creative Musicians, from the Boston area. Out of the perhaps 50 different musicians that Mr. PEK has chosen to play in the many different versions of Leap of Faith and assorted offshoot bands, I have only heard of a handful previously. One of the numerous offshoot projects is called Sub-Unit and as many as four have opened for the Leap of Faith Orchestra gigs. Hence, this disc features a new Sub-Unit, just a duo with PEK and a percussionist named Michael Knoblach. I had never heard of Mr. Knoblach before now but I did find a fascinating duo set with him & Bill T. Miller on YouTube which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQwFxFd7d5U
What is interesting about Mr. Knoblach is that he plays a wide variety of percussive instruments, toys and oddities, many of which are not normally used as percussion. Just reading the names of these devices makes me smile as someone who also plays the odd percussion like hubcaps & assorted metals. For those of us that can appreciate a wealth of percussion sounds, this disc displays quite a bit of sonic nuance, especially if we listen closely. As with most Evil Clown discs, PEK usually works with one instrument at a time, exploring each one: contrabass clarinet, bass sax, melodica, assorted percussion, double reeds and more. I played most of this disc with headphones which made it easier to hear the variety sounds, especially the infinite variety of percussion which was used throughout. Much of this is close mic’d, adding even more nuance to subtle sounds. 63 minutes long and consistently engaging as long you are patient. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Liner Notes by PEK
The Evil Clown Empire is comprised of the Leap of Faith Orchestra and its core unit, Leap of Faith, along with a number of other ensembles that feature different cross-sections of the Orchestra: Turbulence features the horn players, String Theory features the String Players, Metal Chaos Ensemble features percussion and electronics, PEK Solo features my own playing, etc. The individual bands do not have a fixed set of players, but instead have a central idea which focuses the palate of sounds available. One of the projects (now dormant while I find a venue to replace Third Life Studios), Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units, features short improvisation by sections from the orchestra followed by an improv with everyone. So, Evil Clown performances are credited to Sub-Unit No. “X” when a small format improvisation occurs by members of the orchestra which are not assignable to one of the regular ensemble names.
Recently, when Yuri decided to withdraw from Evil Clown projects except Metal Chaos Ensemble, I started to look for new drummers who could help fill his massive Klown Shoes… Michael Knoblach was recommended by Evil Clown regular Eric Dahlman, I reached out, we talked, and his debut Evil Clown set will be this duet LIVESTREAMED from Evil Clown headquarters.
Although Michael plays the drum set, in recent years he has been focused on percussion. This duet with the Evil Clown percussion arsenal along with instruments from Michael’s huge collection available enabled wonderful new sonority. Michael plays at a quitter mean dynamic than is typical for Evil Clown ensembles. Leap of Faith, in particular, has stretches of this quieter space in nearly every improvisation, but the mean dynamic is much louder. It was very interesting to focus an entire set on my lower volume vocabulary. Michael and I both enjoyed this auspicious first set and are working more sessions into the schedule, including a Leap of Faith trio with Glynis and a trio with a second horn… Stay Tuned!
PEK - clarinet & contrabass clarinet, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, guanzi, contrabassoon, sheng, melodica, game calls, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, rattles, crotales, windsiren, wood blocks, balafon, orchestral chimes, glockenspiel
Michael Knoblach - frame drum, vintage gypsy tambourine, basket of rocks, dan mo, waterfilled mason jar, vintage billiards triangle, abacuses, gong, temple blocks, antique sheep shears, antique glass leg rest furniture carpet protectors, African circumcision rattles, Spooky World noise makers, LP udder, sistrum, vintage fisher price bumble bee, Asian palm frond rattles, assorted other percussion
Sub-Unit No. 1 - Main Sequence
LIVESTREAMED from Evil Clown Headquarters
10 February 2020
Review Excerpts from Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery (Full text below)
“… I played most of this disc with headphones which made it easier to hear the variety sounds, especially the infinite variety of percussion which was used throughout. Much of this is close mic’d, adding even more nuance to subtle sounds. 63 minutes long and consistently engaging as long you are patient”
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Liner Notes Excerpt by PEK (Full text below)
"… Michael plays at a quieter mean dynamic than is typical for Evil Clown ensembles. Leap of Faith, in particular, has stretches of this quieter space in nearly every improvisation, but the mean dynamic is much louder. It was very interesting to focus an entire set on my lower volume vocabulary. Michael and I both enjoyed this auspicious first set and are working more sessions into the schedule, including a Leap of Faith trio with Glynis and a trio with a second horn… Stay Tuned!…”
"A new sub-unit of the Leap of Faith Orchestra showcases the work of David Peck (PEK) on clarinets, saxophones, and a wide array of percussive devices, in a duo with new drummer Michael Knoblach, also on an assortment of percussive devices including antique sheep shears, African circumcision rattles, dan mo, &c, for 5 unique improvisations recorded in the studio"