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Made To Break: F4 Fake (Trost)

A review of the three track album from the quartet

Made to Break, F4 Fake
The cover of F4 Fake by Made to Break

Although F4 Fake consists of just three tracks, the album feels like it contains at least twice that number of compositions due to the way the quartet called Made to Break changes moods, often with little or no transition. Funky vamps disappear as quickly as they begin. Chaos suddenly shifts into composed passages. Trick endings act as a gateway to peaceful codas.

Made to Break consists of Ken Vandermark (reeds), Jasper Stadhouders (electric bass and guitar), Tim Daisy (drums), and Christof Kurzmann (electronics). Like virtually all of Vandermark’s compositions, these tracks are dedicated to artists, though he salutes their spirit rather than conjuring them through music.

That being said, Orson Welles—director of the 1973 film F for Fake—still seems like an unlikely subject for “Aäton.” The group kicks off a funky groove, with Vandermark on tenor. Before long, it falls apart, plummeting into a sea of electronic noise from Kurzmann. Vandermark switches to clarinet and Stadhouders moves to guitar, which he rakes with wild abandon. What feels like a roaring climax, with more raspy tenor and a sinister bass line, turns out to be a red herring. The final three minutes end with Kurzmann imitating the tranquil sound of vibes.

“Meccano Number 7,” dedicated to Argentine novelist Julio Cortàzar, includes some gutbucket tenor lines and electronic blasts that sound like shortwave radio signals. Things go virtually silent after nine minutes. But Kurzmann is just operating at low volume, eventually getting into a duet with the imaginative Daisy.

“Agora,” for Brazilian vocalist Zelia Barbosa, is the most radical track, due in large part to Stadhouders. His rabid guitar work straddles amateurish plunking and advanced extended technique, underscored by his effects pedals. The performance inspires Vandermark, who joins him for some abrasive clarinet noise. But just when everything seems too loose, the group hits a riff together. 

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Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com.