On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
TURBULENCE with PEK / BOB MOORES / MELANIE HOWELL- BROOKS / DUANE REED - Vertical Currents (Evil Clown 9278; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, flutes, double reeds & loads of percussion, Bob Moores on trumpets & percussion, Melanie Howell-Brooks on contrabass clarinet, flutes & assorted percussion and Duane Reed on baritone horn (small tuba) & percussion. There are around a half dozen Leap of faith offshoot projects by now, but only two that record more frequently: Turbulence and Metal Chaos Ensemble. Turbulence started out in 2016 with two constant members: PEK and former LoF drummer Yuri Zbitnov. Since Zbitnov has left the scene, Bob Moores & PEK are the two constant members with Duane Reed (the name of pharmacy chain) also now a regular member. The newest member is Melanie Howell-Brooks who is making her first appearance on Evil Clown. This disc was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters in July of 2021, just 2 months ago.
Things begins quietly with occasional clouds of trumpet, contrabass clarinet and subtle yet eerie percussion (mostly cymbals, gongs & bells). The ensemble take their time and usually concentrates on one instrument or small group of hand percussion, as this piece evolves. There is a solo midway but I am not so sure what instrument it is: baritone horn with a mute perhaps? Next another solo by a double reed (sheng?) floats in over a solemn cushion of soft, mysterious percussion. It takes some patience in order to appreciate the way things slowly unfold and build together. Once we slow down, we can appreciate the way things evolve, carefully crafted sounds moving on spacious clouds, ethereal, mystical and sublime at times. There is not that much turbulence although there is still some compelling sounds which wash over us like a warm stream.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Liner Notes by PEK
I formed Turbulence in 2015 as I started to assemble players for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. Turbulence, the extended horn section for the Orchestra (along with guests on other instruments), also records and performs as an independent unit. As if this writing in May of 2021, we have recorded over 30 albums on Evil Clown with greatly varied ensembles. All the smaller Evil Clown bands are really more about a general approach, rather than a specific set of musicians. A session gets credited to Turbulence when it is mostly horn players and the only musician on all of them is me. The sessions range from an early duet with Steve Norton and me (Vortex Generation Mechanisms) to a 5-horn band with bass and two percussionists (Encryption Schemes) to four albums by the side project Turbulence Doom Choir which feature myself, multiple tubas, percussion, electronics and signal processing.
I opened Evil Clown Headquarters in mid-May to players that have been fully vaccinated. Horn players can’t really wear a mask, so there was no way to do ECH studio sessions inside during the stupid CV. There has been some shifting in the roster with some players no longer available and some players returning after a period of absence. This set was originally scheduled around clarinetist Todd Brunel (who played on a couple Leap of Faith sets following the reboot in 2015) and Evil Clown newcomer Melanie Howell-Brooks (who plays flutes, clarinets and saxophones). As often happens with scheduling busy players, Todd had a schedule conflict arise after we arranged the session, so we went on with out him as a quartet with Melanie, Evil Clown regulars Bob Moores (trumpets) and Duane Reed (baritone horn), and me.
I met Melanie during the pandemic when she reached out to me regarding my contrabass clarinet, a fairly unusual horn at the bottom end of the clarinet family. I love low clarinets, and I had this metal, paperclip shaped, contra since the early 90s. In 2015 or 2016, I bought a nice contralto clarinet and I started to use the contrabass infrequently – it is a nice horn that plays well, but it has a tricky peg arrangement and is a bit awkward as a result. I tended to use the contralto as my main low clarinet, it’s in a great register, almost as low as the contrabass, and did not have any of the awkwardness of the giant paperclip. Anyhow, I bought a new contrabass at the beginning of 2020 which is a straight horn without the peg issues during instrument changes. In a wild coincidence, she inquired about this rare instrument and I happened to have two of them! Anyway, she bought my old horn from me to use for her immediate need and to extend her clarinet range to the bottom register.
I’m always looking for new qualified players to bring into Evil Clown, and during our discussion around her purchase of my old instrument, we decided that we would like to play together. This was her first set with Turbulence and she was great as I expected! Look for more of Melanie in Turbulence and Leap of Faith albums coming in the future from Evil Clown…
PEK – 7/17/2021
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 Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Turbulence - Vertical Currents
Streamed Live to YouTube from
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
14 July 2021
Excerpt from Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
“…Once we slow down, we can appreciate the way things evolve, carefully crafted sounds moving on spacious clouds, ethereal, mystical and sublime at times. …compelling sounds which wash over us like a warm stream.”
A meditative and expansive improvisation from the Boston-based collective Turbulence, a precursor to Leap of Faith Orchestra led by Evil Clown leader David Peck, here performing on a variety of clarinets, saxophones, flutes, winds and percussive devices, in a quartet with Bob Moore on trumpets and percussion, Duane Reed on baritone horn and Melanie Howell-Brooks on contrabass clarinet.
Liner Notes Excerpt
“… I opened Evil Clown Headquarters in mid-May to players that have been fully vaccinated. Horn players can’t really wear a mask, so there was no way to do ECH studio sessions inside during the stupid CV. There has been some shifting in the roster with some players no longer available and some players returning after a period of absence. This set was originally scheduled around clarinetist Todd Brunel (who played on a couple Leap of Faith sets following the reboot in 2015) and Evil Clown newcomer Melanie Howell-Brooks (who plays flutes, clarinets and saxophones). As often happens with scheduling busy players, Todd had a schedule conflict arise after we arranged the session, so we went on with out him as a quartet with Melanie, Evil Clown regulars Bob Moores (trumpets) and Duane Reed (baritone horn), and me... ”
PEK - clarinet, contralto & contrabass clarinets, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, piccolo. alto & bass flutes, Christmas flute, occarinas, piccolo oboe, bass tromboon, medieval horn, sheng, [d]ronin, electric chimes, chime rod boxes, telstar, spring boxes, rachet, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, cow bells, almgocken, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan bells, crotales, hand chimes, voice
Melanie Howell-Brooks - contrabass clarinet, flute, piccolo, gong, hand chimes, chimes, bells, temple blocks, log drums, seed pd ratle, cowbells, cymbells, glockenspiel, crotales, whistle
Bob Moores - trumpet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, [d]ronin, chimes, chime rod boxes, telstar, spring boxes, hand chimes, chimes, Englephone, plate gong, cymbal, brontosaurus bell, orchestral chimes, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, xylophone
Duane Reed - baritone horn, hand chimes, chimes, gong, Englephone, orchestral chimes, glockenspiel, crotales, cowbells, xylophone, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, voice