Ken Vandermark / Jasper Stadhouders / Tim Daisy / Christof Kurzmann

February 3, 2020

F4 Fake

Trost TR 189

Having been established for almost a decade with only one substitution, the Euro-American quartet Made to Break (MtB) is confident enough to bring its rhythmic-improv groove to extended material. F4 Fake consists of three lengthy selections, each of which is a multi-sectional mini-suite with acute partitions and multiple timbral shifts. One of the most consistent groups featuring Chicago multi-reedist Ken Vandermark, who at this point has played with nearly every major figure in improvised music, the quartet’s founding members are Windy City drummer Tim Daisy, who has been part of many of Vandermark’s bands as well as collaborating with others; and Austrian ppooll and electronics manipulator Christof Kurzmann, whose playing partners have ranged from Fennesz to John Butcher. Amsterdam-based Jasper Stadhouders, who also part of bands like Spinifex and Cactus Truck, now fills the band’s last chair. Playing guitar and electric bass, his ambidexterity adds more textures to MtB’s creations.

Stadhouders’ bass pulse is an unmistakable feature throughout the disc, with solid rhythms interpolating Jazz acumen with Rock-like energy. Connected to Daisy’s energetic back beat on “Meccano Number 7” for instance, the improvisation’s ever-shifting bottom is maintained. With that equilibrium established, Vandermark playing any of his reeds has the freedom to splinter his vibrations into atom-sized bites or corkscrew upwards shrieks, while in this case, Kurzmann uses his instrument’s modular patches to replicate the throbs of an R&B organ as well as jiggle synthesized outer-space-like sound approximations. Stadhouders’ guitar strokes become prominent in the track’s second variation defined by gentle clarinet breaths, moderated nerve beats from Daisy and curving wave forms from the ppooll. Like the other multi-sectional tracks, this one is knit together by the finale as sliding string pops from Stadhouders and constant drum emphasis pick up the textural emphasis of the introduction.

Similar strategies are followed on the disc’s two other selections. “Aäton” is distinguished by an inventive, but relaxed drum solo of pops, ruffs and rebounds that stands out from twanging guitar frails and Vandermark’s command of multiphonics and glossolalia as well as a notably quiet clarinet coda. Also notable is how MtB’s exploding drones, twangs and splatters circle back to the bouncy introductory theme. Meanwhile “Agora” confirms that with the right players, watery synthesized electronic tones, knob-twisting guitar distortion and layers of slurping and tremolo reed detours can logically meld and even elaborate a unique interaction.

The Modern Jazz Quartet existed as a unit with only one personnel change from 1952 to 1974, with enough time off for its members’ individual projects. Obviously 21st Century music operates in a far different environment than in that time. But on the evidence here and other discs, hopefully MtB will continue to be one of its members’ primary affiliations.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Aäton (For Orson Welles) 2. Meccano Number 7 (For Julio Cortàzar) 3. Agora (For Zelia Barbosa)

Personnel: Ken Vandermark (alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet); Jasper Stadhouders (electric bass and guitar); Tim Daisy (drums) and Christof Kurzmann (ppooll and electronics)