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April 11th, 2007 Michael Byrne | Music Stories
 

Break Character Saturday, April 14

One of Portland's most engaging new projects steps back and fuses together.

     
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[bricolage] "Break character" represents a couple of things. First, it's a theatrical term. Second, it denotes a 9-month-old freeform project of loose sampling, fluttering flute loops, turntablism and a wee bit of good ol' fashioned echo-chamber crunk (imagine DJ Shadow getting down with Brian Eno and the Books). The musical project Break Character is comprised of two local gentleman who go by Taco Drum and Animal Stitches. Characters indeed.

So, you may ask, is this duo a theatrical one-off? Not so much: Taco Drum is the increasingly ubiquitous David Fimbres, occasional drummer for Modernstate and a regular part of local staples ...worms and Please Step Out of the Vehicle. He's Hispanic...and he plays the drums. Not much to it. (Break Character also cops to the influential powers of tacos, but don't we all?)

Animal Stitches is Cole Ingersoll, a record-store clerk, would-be DJ and relative novice to the performance community who's repulsed by the shallowness of Portland's DJ scene (as he interprets it). His stage name is a reference to an odd childhood recollection: At age 5, Ingersoll was in a bad accident and ended up getting organic filament stitches made from, well, animal parts (which is not uncommon). Some two decades later, the memory of waking up after the stitches' removal to a bedside jar of "twitching blue fibers" led to the name.

Stage names aside, the phrase "break character" defines the ideal of Fimbres and Ingersoll. As a performance-related term, it indicates when an actor or actress ditches his or her character in favor of their own. Within Break Character's heavily sample-reliant world, it means literally breaking character and acknowledging that the music is sometimes simply a record playing. It's an incredibly effective anti-DJ move befitting a record-store clerk (or, in his words, "a jaded and cynical record-store dick"). But it's just a momentary nod: Upon deeper listening, it's apparent the duo takes both cuts and stitches conceptually to heart.

The spliced vinyl breaks on the band's limited-run, pseudo-ambient self-titled release (it will be available, appropriately, on vinyl in the coming months) ditch the artifice that plagues most sample-based work. Break Character challenges us to dissect sounds, to discern Ingersoll's turntable play from Fimbres' adept drum breaks, sly dance rhythms and surprisingly appropriate free-form flute. In the end, it's nearly impossible to tell which part of Break Character is which. Stitches accomplished.


Break Character plays Saturday, April 14, with Modernstate, Quiet Countries and Gulls at the Orange Room. 9 pm. Free. All ages.
 
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