Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Made to Break - Before the Code (Trost, 2015)

Made to Break is one of the most recent of multi-reedist and composer Ken Vandermark’s many ensembles. With a mix of electric and acoustic instruments there is a wide range of possibilities for the music to evolve. This band includes Christof Kurzmann on electronics, Jasper Stadhouders on electric bass and Tim Daisy on drums. “Dial the Number (Intro)” is opened by electronics and strong drumming developing into a strapping quartet section, with the electronics stretching space and time while Vandermark’s ripe tenor saxophone leads the group storming forward. They play with the form quite a bit, with Vandermark spitting choppy and guttural bursts while Kurzmann frames him with bursts of static. Fast saxophone and sawing electronics are at the center of “Dial the Number (for Agnes Varda)” with the electronics dropping out briefly to allow the trio to fly free. When Kurzmann does return, he builds a section of scouring noise, pushing the music into post-rock territory, akin to bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Tortoise at their most abstract. It works well through, as all of the members of the band are relentless explorers in their own right. “Off Picture No. 119 (For Joshua Oppenheimer)” has a slow and moody start that gradually gives way to a very nice saxophone, bass and drums section. Electronic noise enters, swirling and shimmering as Daisy slips into a steady heartbeat like rhythm. Electronics take command and reach critical mass sounding like Sun Ra at his freakiest before Vandermark makes his return over surprisingly funky bass and drums. Daisy get a brief solo before locking in with Stadhouders and the rest of the band sounding much like another Vandermark ensemble: the dearly missed Spaceways Inc. as they end the track playing funky, free and awesome. An abstraction of percussion, thick bass and probing bass is the feeling of “Window Breaking Hammer (for Reiner Werner Fassbinder)” where they carefully take things up with some rattling bass and the music building faster and stronger. Things drop out into an ominous and haunting midsection with smears of noise and drones, which are highly pitched and nervous. They pull back to end the very lengthy track beautifully with the acoustic trio playing a medium fast improvisation with electronic frames and shading. The music on this album is quite diverse, running the gamut from jazz to free improvisation to experimental rock music. This is a very exciting group that really thrives on the unexpected and develops their music accordingly. Before the Code - band camp

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