Made To Break is the most fertile and active outfit from Ken Vandermark in the last decade, and as we all know, Vandermark leads or co-leads at least ten more outfits simultaneously. F4 Fake is already the 9th album from Made to Break, recorded in November 2017 after concluding a short European tour at the Primitive Studios, Vienna.
The title of the album refers, obviously, to today’s troubled populist politics, but the three extended compositions relate to Vandermark’s common interests - art, cinema, fiction, songwriting and how it all corresponds with his musical ideas and language. Made to Break features Vandermark on reeds, fellow Chicagoan, drummer Tim Daisy, Austrian Christof Kurzmann who plays on the ppooll software and electronics, and Dutch Jasper Stadhouders who mostly focuses on the electric bass, though can be heard contributing some guitar as well.
F4 Fake begins with “Aäton”, dedicated to the great director-actor-writer Orson Wells, and titled after the Aäton film cameras, invented by Jean-Pierre Beauviala, who passed away earlier this year. Its strong funky vibe is disturbed by the subversive electronic sounds of Kurzmann who forces Vandermark, Stadhouders and Daisy to alter their rhythmic sense and eventually open the interplay to totally alien sounds and abstract, spacious dynamics. But patiently, Vandermark, Stadhouders and Daisy integrate Kurzmann’s electronics interventions into their funky groove. This kind of interplay is suddenly interrupted again by the angelic sounds of Kurzmann who leads the quartet towards a chamber-like coda.
The second piece, “Meccano Number 7”, dedicated to the Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar and titled after an expression from the counter-novel “Hopscotch”. The atmosphere is still rhythmic, but lighter than “Aäton”. Here Kurzmann employs his ppooll software as another reed instrument with weird, fragmented sounds that enriches the dialog with Vandermark and pushes him to some wild, ecstatic outbursts, but also, again, to delicate chamber interplay.
The third and last piece, “Agora”, now in Portugese, dedicated to Brazilian protest singer Zélia Barbosa, is the most political piece here. Its urgent, raging spirit captures best the anger and dismay over the disastrous politics of the current Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who like his American colleague and model, relies on fake news to justify his idiotic acts. Here, Made to Break sounds like a four-headed massive unit that is in a holy mission, attacking with sheer force and boundless energy the demonic, fake politics. Made to Break combines fiery free jazz with raw noises and abstract electronics, all accumulates into a possessive interplay, sensual and extreme in its own way, but one that highlights Made to Break in its best.