Made To Break was formed in the summer of 2011, and is an electro-acoustic, improvising ensemble that synthesizes the two parallel streams of creative activity described above. Its music emphasizes my current preoccupation with spontaneous structures and rhythmic ideas inspired from outside the Jazz tradition (recent influences include an enthusiasm for the messy but precise music from post-punk England, particularly Wire and The Fall; along with the impact of music from Ethiopia, which I’ve encountered directly through an extremely fortunate association with the Ex). Each composition is again modular. The sequence of these components, which create the meta-structure of a piece, is determined before every performance. But the use of the written elements, and the means of which to move from one composition to another, are completely open to the players, who work independently with the melodic, rhythmic, sonic, and formal ramifications intrinsic to the music. Christof Kurzmann works as something of a “free agent” in the group, able to develop his own sets of activity that interface with the structure and parts organized by the rest of the ensemble. Combined, these methods have made it possible to derive the content-based layers of complexity I sought with the Frame Quartet, without using its intricate set of visual cues.
The material written for Made To Break is a further expansion of creative procedures developed to address the paradox of composing for improvisers: how to leave musicians free to invent spontaneously and as individuals, while simultaneously putting them into specific musical territory which they might not discover organically, and which they can reinterpret from a new standpoint time and time again. The present solution to this challenge was generated over many years of work by a variety of bands. It is expressed with a platform that demands complete inventiveness from each player on both the macro level (structure) and the micro level (sound and rhythm). The compositions make it possible for one musician to immediately recognize what another is doing, while giving the option to work with this or against it, using written components or by improvising. In addition, because the formation of each piece is unrehearsed, it’s impossible for a performer to anticipate another player’s choices by becoming overly familiar with the arrangements or memorizing the sequence of events- the material is organized to demand listening and improvising on as many concurrent levels as possible. The music of Made To Break is a form of problem solving in real time, expressed with sound.
-Ken Vandermark, Köln, October 29, 2012
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