ORGAN THING: Cheer-Accident and another New Ear, a new album, the experimental improv side of the always rewarding Chicago prog rock band…


Cheer AccidentA New Ear: 2023 – Now there’s some strange things on here, well no, not strange things, just Cheer Accident things. There’s some beautiful things on here, that eleven minute track called 1:30PM/3:30PM/5:30PM for instance. There’s some very experimental things on here, there’s a moment a two probably designed to test you in that way Cheer Accident like to test you (or are they testing themselves?). The first thing to say here is that this is not a typical frontline Cheer Accident album, dare we say this is not “proper” Cheer Accident? If you don’t know the work of the long standing properly progressive prog rock band from Chicago, if this is your first taste then really, you need to go explore their recent “proper” album first, or their vast back catalogue of forward looking properly progressive real deal cool as flip prog rock. This new album is one of their left-field experimental sideswipes, this is an art attack, this is how they spend their spare time (or in this case, how they spend their New year’s Day). This is how they like to provoke or just poke or mess with people, this is like Genesis going on a Throbbing Gristle bus ride – far more organic and way way less noisy than Throbbing Gristle of course but you know what we mean! This is experimental music, this performance art and an album thrown out a couple of days ago for Bandcamp Friday. Hey bands, don’t be relying Musk or Zuckerberg and their damn algorhythms to throw the news on to our timelines, most of the time even if we do follow you, we don’t get to see these things (whatever happened to mailing lists). A new album thrown out a week or so ago, the news didn’t land here until well after the day it was posted.  

Four Or Against (Seven) is just glorious,  actually there are people out there who probably don’t like the brilliantly vital prog rock Cheer Accident usually make who would love the way they paint things here, this is way left field, this is wonderfully experimental, sometimes little more than a clever drone with a delicious undercurrent, at times almost classical – the nine and a bit minutes of  Theme until that guitar starts to honk like a goose – there are people on that sound art experimental scenes who would love this, who would gather in dark corners to stroke chins about Cheer-Accident’s tuned-in improvisation, their knowing co-ordination
Salon (Suburb) is just fun, without ever being throwaway and while still being incredibly serious, it is just fun, the whole album is a joy actually, this is their “Annual New Year’s Day Improv”, they didn’t say much about this 2023 release, however the blurb on the Bandcamp pages with 2022’s New Ear release does explain some of the backgrounds to these excellent Ear releases…. 

While growing up, New Year’s Eve was always a special time for me: that was the one night of the year that I could count on my parents and both of my sisters to be gone until at least 2:00 in the morning, which meant, for my ever-growing sense of youthful anticipation, the opportunity to partake in the exquisite coupling of creative solitude with energizing externalities, myriad and insistent. (As the sounds of celebratory human ruckus at Times Square blared from the television, I would “make stuff up” on the piano in the adjacent room.) On one of these yearly occasions, I decided to invite my pals, Mike Greenlees and Jim Drummond, into my ritual. Mike brought his drums, Jim brought his stream of consciousness, and, suddenly (though we didn’t know it at the time), CHEER-ACCIDENT was born. (“Literally in the opening seconds of 1981…” so the mythology goes.) As somebody may have once said, “never let an origin story go to waste,” and so, fast forwarding several decades into the future, you’ll find us, once again, engaging in this perennial brainstorming session, this time in the form of neighborhood improv gatherings. (Fortunately, here in Chicago, you can throw a rock and hit somebody who knows what to do with sound in a spontaneous way, and many of these people live in rock-throwing proximity to our beloved CheerAx Basement.) When we restarted this tradition in 2015, I would unfailingly spend a fair bit of time in the first few weeks of the year, mixing select moments of improvisatory wonder, thinking that surely some of it would turn up on an album someday. Well, given that that’s still yet to happen, I decided to (in a timely manner) whittle 2022’s three-and-a half-hour session into a Bandcamp-exclusive album. Rather than having to wait for some nebulous time in the future for it to see the light of day, y’ll have access to it… right now.

This is the first of its kind. Hopefully in a series.

From a mixing standpoint, I wanted to approach this material with the same degree of whimsy and wrongness that permeated the original event. The aesthetic is anti-purist from both directions: ya don’t get a “genuine” document of an actual occurrence, nor do ya get the benefit of an ideal recording setup, where every instrument can luxuriate in their respective isolation. It’s the worst of both worlds! Since I was one of the improvisers in the original performance, I decided to carry that sense of adventure into the mixing and editing stages, not being overly concerned with the preciousness of “capturing” something sacred, but allowing myself the freedom to shoot out in whatever direction the current sonic landscape suggested.

Having said that, when I listen to the end result, it’s clear that the personalities of the people involved, and the atmosphere of the event, continue to shine through. In other words, the “after the fact” liberties taken (and there were many) serve as more of an extrapolation than a negation.   Thymme

And that it is, Thymme Jones explaining how the album came about perfectly. The 2023 release is excellent, yes it is improv, it is experimental, it never feels difficult, it all feels natural, instinctive, it feels good, it feels as “proper” as anything Cheer Accident have ever done, it feels like proper art, it feels real, honest, relaxing, rewarding, actually it feels, without ever sounding like it wants to be, it feels kind of vital. A beautiful album. (sw)

Find the abum on Bandcamp


Previously on these pages – Cheer Accident’s new album – oh look, if you already know then you know, if you don’t then you really should. Here Comes The Sunset cranks up the prog and a whole lot more (again)


ORGAN THING: The outrageously rewarding new Cheer Accident album, the Chicago band’s twentieth, surely they have no right to still be this good

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