Music From the Accident

Oneida / Man Forever's John Colpitts draws triumph from the most catastrophic adversity, finds Daryl Worthington

There’s a strange gait to the beat on ‘Up and Down,’ the second track on Colpitts’ Music From the Accident. It’s like free-rock drumming compressed into a gif. A flurry of accelerating energy which never increases in velocity. Jagged rhythms and gloopy electronics paint a vivid portrait of inertia. Frustrated but not oppressive, it’s escape through contemplation, defying the ennui of restricted movement by expanding what can be made in the confines.

As detailed in a recent interview with tQ, John Colpitts, aka Kid Millions, composed Music From the Accident while recovering from a life-changing car crash which left him unable to work for months. Relentlessly active as a member of Oneida, Boredoms, and Spiritualized, and his own Man Forever project, the three tracks capture endless momentum colliding with waiting.

In his book Rhythmanalysis, Henri Lefebvre argued that measures which seem unconnected – time and space, linear and cyclical – actually blend into each other, with rhythm the constant that binds them. They “measure themselves against one another,” he writes, “each one makes itself and is made a measuring-measure; everything is cyclical repetition through linear repetitions.” This resonates with Music From the Accident, as if the disparity in pulse between routine forward movement and recuperation time opened a new plane of exploration for Colpitts.

Opener ‘Bread’ is a shadowy synth panorama created in collaboration with Greg Fox. Fumbling patterns subside into longer, flickering textures. It’s akin to the mixing of paces experienced if you spend too long looking at the news feed on your computer, becoming aware of your relative stasis as the world continues beating outside. The track works in a similar gap, the overlap of cyclical and open-ended, constrained and unconstrained, as though Colpitts is trying to work out the difference between standing still and freefall.

Music From the Accident unearths something liberatory through its reflection on the rhythms of temporary limitation. It feels illuminated as much by what’s outside that restriction as the restriction itself. The thrill of live music, performance and collaboration, the optimism of motion, are a positive spectre not so much haunting as invigorating the album. It comes across most explicitly in closer ‘Recovery’, where electronics, drums and Jessica Pavone’s viola combine into an Outside The Dream Syndicate-esque frenzy grasping at multiple directions out of the murk.

I have a very clear memory of seeing Colpitts at the end of an eight-hour Oneida show some years ago, standing in gleeful, sweaty exhaustion atop his drum stool. It’s a mental image of pure elation. What makes Music From the Accident so miraculous is the way that same feeling of triumph through exploration drenches the album, in spite of the accident which shaped its creation.

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