Exposé Online banner

Cheer-Accident — Salad Days
(Skin Graft GR123, 2000/2017, CD)

Cheer-Accident — Trading Balloons
(Skin Graft GR124, 1999/2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-04

Salad Days Cover artTrading Balloons Cover art

When I first encountered this band, they were already well into their career — I think Fear Draws Misfortune (2009) was the first album of theirs that I heard — and I quickly learned that they had a fairly substantial back catalog to investigate. Skin Graft is making that a lot easier with the reissue of some choice items, including Salad Days from 2000 and Trading Balloons, which was originally only available as a limited-release CDR in 1999. Let’s start by looking at Salad Days. In most respects, this album is cut from the same cloth as the band’s more recent work, with unpredictable changes and a willful disregard of conventions. There are two tracks over ten minutes along with three shorter ones (one of which is less than a minute long), The opening track, “Graphic Depression,” is one of the long ones, and there are parts of it that would sound familiar to listeners of the band’s recent releases. Where it differs is their willingness to have long, quiet sections with little going on, simple repeated patterns — the last four minutes are quite minimal. The most interesting of the short tracks, “Insomnia” consists of drums, wobbly keyboard sounds, and oddball vocals, but is kind of catchy for all its weirdness. The title track finishes off the album, and it’s a nicely done side-long piece that features some lovely arrangements for woodwinds and brass in places and avoids the more difficult aspects of the opening track. It’s very inventive and does a good job of maintaining interest for the whole length. In short, if you like Cheer-Accident’s recent albums and wouldn't mind them being a bit weirder, Salad Days should work for you.

Trading Balloons consists of a single track 52:21 in length which goes through numerous sections, and (as you might expect) there is a lot of stylistic variety involved. The piece starts with a brief, noisy intro full of dissonant guitar and thrashing drums, then drops down for a section with bass and guitar playing patterns repeated hypnotically, and instead of building it up to the next thing, they actually let it diminish into obscurity, being subsumed by vague echoes over the course of nearly five minutes. Then we start to hear long tones from saxes and trombones, playing in clusters seemingly unrelated to each other. It’s hard to tell if the music was played by musicians or assembled from samples as a kind of collage. After that fades out, there are random dissonant guitar notes over the previous guitar and bass patterns. Next we get a couple of minutes of mangled voices, sampled and processed, and mixed so quiet that you may wonder if it’s still playing. About the time you’re ready to give up on it (or a bit beyond, depending on your patience), suddenly there’s a full band playing loud and fast. Another section that comes along includes several minutes of the same chord being repeated over and over again. Depending on your mood, this may be a meditative exercise examining the slight differences in overtones as the chord is played again and again. Or it may be infuriating. They eventually cut that off and move on to something else: dissonant feedback, plodding rhythms, bursts of chaotic thrashing, stretches of playing so quiet you have to check to see your player hasn’t frozen up. If you’re familiar with some of the band’s more recent efforts, this album is much less accessible, and in fact ventures well into the “difficult listening” zone, so keep that in mind. If your tastes don’t run in that direction, Salad Days is a much better bet.


Filed under: Reissues, 2017 releases, 2000 recordings, 1999 recordings

Related artist(s): Cheer-Accident

More info
http://skingraftrecords.bandcamp.com/album/salad-days-remastered
http://skingraftrecords.bandcamp.com/album/trading-balloons-remastered

Latest news

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ivanhoe - Polarized – Can't get enough of that Iron Maiden? Check out Polarized. There is no doubt, as musicians, Ivanhoe are first rate. The singer, Andy B. Frank is very good, if he's a German singing in English,...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues