Sunday, January 14, 2018

Made to Break - Trebuchet (Trost Records, 2017)

Made to Break is one of the most exciting modern jazz and improvised music ensembles active today. Consisting of Ken Vandermark on reed instruments, Christof Kurzmann on electronics and lloopp, Jasper Stadhouders on bass and Tim Daisy on drums and percussion. The music is a powerful and compelling mix of acoustic instruments with electronics and loops that is light years away from standard jazz fusion. "Hydroplane (For Shellac)" opens the album with strong grinding bass and drums with deep rich tenor saxophone, from the opening beat they envelop the science, with episodes of electronic interference adding variety. The vibrant saxophone and ripe bass are excellent, with the drums kicking in with the electronics swirling to drive the music hard. Vandermark sounds particularly inspired in his saxophone playing with an powerful and furious solo before the pace of the music drops considerably. There is a quieter section of abstract electronics, with smears of reeds and rumbling bass. and there's room for a bass solo against the spacey smears of the electronics. Chirpy reed and thudding bass build the dynamics back up making room for further percussion and saxophone soloing, leading to a very powerful conclusion. It is a long track, but continuously interesting throughout, with a dynamic push and pull creating a strong narrative presence to the musical evolution. "Contact Sheet (For Susan Sontag)" is nearly as long, beginning with light saxophone and feathery brushes, giving the music subtle shading that allows the pace to gradually pick up with the addition of the electronics and the power of the saxophone and percussion increasing accordingly. The music builds to a frenetic section of sculpted electronics buzzing and fizzing along with taut bass and drums. Vandermark re-enters, adding raw tenor saxophone to create a deeply textured free collective improvisation, that draws its power both from modern jazz and post-modern music collage. A quieter passage for the group adds and eerie and abstract angle to the proceedings, before there is a shocking jump in volume for the finale "Slipping Words Against Silence (for Kerry James Marshall)." This shows the group at their most potent, pushing their instruments to the brink, and then bringing them back. Kurzmann creates layers of unexpected sounds as Vandermark counters by switching to clarinet, swooping around the field of view. Tension builds as space opens up giving a group a clear vision of what lays before them. From a moment of silence, the musicians re-emerge, with Vandermark moving back to caustic tenor saxophone, unaccompanied in space, before the band kicks back in with an infectious groove with whistling and ringing electronics amidst popping bass and percussion. This was a really wonderful album, filled with excitement and very powerful playing and it is very highly recommended. Trebuchet -

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