Boneshaker: Fake Music

Mark Corroto By

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Boneshaker: Fake Music
The trio of saxophonist Mars Williams, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love have taken the fitting name Boneshaker—a word coined to describe the early velocipede, what we today the bicycle. The moniker was appropriate because the bike's wheels (before the use of rubber tires) were made of wood, making the ride extremely uncomfortable. So why ride this instrument of torture? Because the pain always generated pleasure when you hit a smooth piece of tarmac and felt the sun on your face. The same can be said for the trio's music, without, of course, the suffering.

Fake Music is the trio's fourth release following their 2012 eponymous debut, Unusual Words (Soul What, 2014) and Thinking Out Loud (Trost, 2017). As they have yet to install rubber wheels, their sound ignites with a cacophonous clamor. "Miakoda" brings to mind the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's (yeah, that happened) "The Promised Land": "There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor/I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm/Gonna be a twister to blow everything down/That ain't got the faith to stand its ground."

But, as with any storm, there is a tranquil aftermath. The opening blowout of Williams's tenor saxophone energy is fueled by Nilssen-Love's drumming barrage. Once exhausted Kessler's bowed bass comes to the fore with Nilssen-Love focusing on cymbal strikes. The macro becomes the micro with little gestures like mallets and a toy thumb-piano. The quiet before the storm is inward facing, we could even say mindful. Then it is back into the void with "Lovin' The Buzz," Williams' clucking notes (is that a taragato?) over a pounding pulse. The formula of storm-to-calm is repeated once more. The final piece, "Echo Clang," although the shortest in length, may be the centerpiece. Opening with a whirling hose, some metal twines, slow bowing, and cymbal scrapes, the music builds a cautious foundation using pregnant pauses to heighten the suspense. Ultimately the trio deep dives into its energy-jazz attaché case. Kessler and Nilsson-Love supplying an off-kilter swing to showcase Williams' boneshaking horn. It's a rough ride, but an exhilarating experience.

Track Listing

Miakoda; Lovin’ The Buzz; Echo Clang.


Mars Williams: reeds, toy instruments; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion; Kent Kessler: bass.

Album information

Title: Fake Music | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Soul What Records

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