Composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and label founder, PEK is an audacious experimenter. Beyond that, there are no appropriate labels for the music associated with his numerous groups on his Evil Clown label. Listen to the Leap of Faith Orchestra on The Photon Epoch and you will find yourself at thirty-thousand feet, in a place with few identifiable landmarks, and then just trust that PEK will land the plane.
Twice each year, the Evil Clown family of groups convenes as a full orchestra, to perform and record before a live audience and without a substantial safety net. The groups, Leap of Faith (a flexible formation), Metal Chaos Ensemble, String Theory, Turbulence and Mekaniks each feature distinct instrument groupings and different dynamics; PEK himself is the common connection and the creative force behind each band. The Photon Epoch is living, breathing art, best appreciated from all of the creative perspectives involved in the finished product. The involved Frame Notation process, designed to eliminate the need for mass rehearsals, tells the musicians all they need to know; coding of instrument groups and score, when (and sometimes what) to play, for how long, and with what characteristics. On paper, the Frame Notation is a work of visual art, the hybrid of an intricate wiring diagram and Piet Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie."
One of the first things you notice about The Photon Epoch is the evolving maturity of LOFO. Many gadgets and odd instruments that populated the orchestra's previous Cosmological Horizons (Evil Clown, 2018) are minimalized here. There is a new collective depth to LOFO's sound; symphonious, and with greater complexity of emotion, but still bristling with rawness. While free improvisations, or as PEK prefers, "pure improvisations," are the unseen aspects within each frame, there is a consistent musicality running through the entire extended work. Through a half-dozen live LOFO recordings, this collective has gelled as a large, empathetic unit, taking an erudite approach to traversing some perilous territory. In the transitions from idyllic passages to visceral outbursts, the individual musicians have mastered the ability to dissociate themselves from unrelated stimuli while holding firm to interpreting ideas that, to this point, have only played out in PEK's head.
In the full-orchestra setting, that collective energy of Evil Clown sub-groups grows exponentially. On multiple listens with and without headphones, in the light and in the dark, there is no diluting the power of this music, even with its long duration. Something new presents itself each time, an instrument group may stand out, a bell rings, a silence that seems more profound. The Photon Epoch marks a forward movement in PEK's music, and it also stands out as the highlight to-date, of one of the most prolific and unique composers of creative music.
The Photon Epoch.
PEK: clarinet, contralto clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, tarota, sheng, melodica, chau gong, plate gong; Glynis Lomon: cello; Yuri Zbitnov: drums, daiko, dan-mo, englephone, vibraphone, paiste gong, brontosaurus, tank bells; Bob Moores: trumpet; Forbes Graham; trumpet; Zack Bartolomei: alto saxophone, flute, Atlantis gong; Eric Dahlman: trumpet, overtone voice; Jim Warshauer: tenor saxophone, contralto clarinet, flute; Duane Reed: baritone horn, bass trombone; Greg Burbank: tuba; Abigale Reisman: violin; Sue Buzzard: violin; Adrienne Schoenfeld: bass; Reverend Grant Beale: guitar, electronics; Chris Florio: guitar; synthesizer; Eric Woods: analog synthesizer; Eric Zinman: piano, log drums; Eric Rosenthal: drums, concert bass drum, balafon, Chinese gong, metal, wood; Sydney Smart: electronic drums, voice, log drums, glockenspiel, Atlantis gong, metal, wood.
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