Cheer-Accident – Fear Draws Misfortune

January 01, 1970



Thymme Jones’ Cheer-Accident, now well into its third decade
of existence, works a dense palette of dissonant, anxiety-ridden sounds into
complex patterns. In this album, Jones’ drums, keyboards and synthesizers are
augmented, not just by rock instruments, but a post-modern orchestras of
strings, brass, woodwinds and synthesizers. Singers, including Carla Kihlstedt
from Tin Hat, Book of Knots, 2 Foot Yard and Sleepytime Gorilla
Museum, float harmonies
and discords over proggy tangles of rhythm and riff.


Jones is a long-time member of Chicago’s jazz-into-prog-rock underground,
with ties to post-rock outfits like U.S. Maple, Gastr del Sol and the Bobby
Conn band. (Todd Rittman of US Maple played in Cheer-Accident for a time, though
he is not on this record.) The band’s discography includes nearly 20 albums and
cassettes, mostly on smaller labels like Complacency, Skin Graft and Pravda. Fear
Draws Misfortune
is the first album on Cuneiform, though Cheer-Accident
fits well with other bands on the label – Bill Brovold’s Larval, Upsilon Acrux
and others.


Fear Draws Misfortune‘s best tracks are all or mostly
instrumental, the adrenalized, oddly shaped romp of “Mescalito,” the
caffeinated syncopations of “And Then You Realized You Haven’t Left Yet.”  Here, without the distraction of fluid
melodies and counterparts, Jones and his band pound irregular rhythms and
unexpected musical intervals into unsettling symmetries. “Blue Cheadle” has the
album’s most definitive groove, a 4/4 pulse running through feverish musical
imagery. There’s singing in this cut, but nothing fancy. The main vocal line a
post-modern tribal chant of the track’s inexplicable title.


The singing tends to detract in most cases, putting a
conventional gloss on some very eccentric compositions. Jones himself sings
like an understudy in your local theater group’s spring musical, his voice
wavering with the kind of emotion that has otherwise been carefully checked in
these songs. Female vocalists – Carla Kihlstedt, Aleksandra Tomaszewska and
Marketa Fajrajzlova – sound more polished, but still seem like an unnecessary
element of sentimentality.   


Still the vocals reinforce an indefinable whiff of
existential dread that hangs over the whole enterprise, hinting that all this
complexity is an attempt to escape limitations that are, nonetheless, waiting
at the end of every odd-time-signatured measure. “With every calculation/something
goes wrong/working out equations/painfully long/what’s there to dream of/ when
there’s no end to come?” warbles Jones in the thesis-summing “According to the
Spiral.”  That balance of science and
uncertainty, proficiency and doubt forms the crux of this frustrating but
fascinating album.


Standout tracks: “Blue Cheadle”  “Mescalito” JENNIFER KELLY


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