Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson be damned, but we Americans really do have a lot to thank our Canadian brethren for. That’s doubly, perhaps even triply so should you be a music listener. Over the past 5 years or so, Canada has emerged as one of the more essential music scenes, especially if you’re into that whole post-rock thing, thanks in large part to the seemingly endless number of incestuous music communes that have sprung up around labels such as Constellation and Alien8.
Although their names might not be as well known as others, Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin have proved to be fairly instrumental to this scene. Both have been/are members of the celebrated psych-rock/space-jazz instrumental outfit Do Make Say Think, as well as the equally celebrated Broken Social Scene, whose 10+ members released the lauded You Forgot It In People. It shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that the duo’s K.C. Accidental project perfectly straddles the line between their other projects.
Like Do Make Say Think, there are long, drawn out compositions, speckled with dreamy jazz arrangements and intricate percussion. The disc’s “opening” track (actually, the first 6 tracks of the disc are dead air), the cheekily-titled “Instrumental Died In The Bathtub And Took The Daydreams With It,” takes several minutes to really get going. It’s as if the song is slowly rousing itself from a long winter slumber, each of the instruments taking their time to stretch and limber up and get reacquainted with each other. Occasionally, an instrument juts out a bit too much, but soon, everything seems to find its rhythm and begins to coalesce in a fascinating and enthralling process.
However, like Broken Social Scene, K.C. Accidental’s music also contains a certain starry-eyed quality about it. The aforementioned track is immediately followed by the considerably more sprightly “Residential Love Song,” which is driven just as much by a banjo and accordion duet as it is by the shuffling drums and churning guitars.
“Ruined In 84” is the album’s most concise and uptempo track, with watery guitars and synths doing a shimmery dance over stuttering drums. Every so often, the song seems like it might wobble too much and lose its balance — the guitars get a little more shivery, the drums begin to thrash about a bit more — but it always rights itself, picking up new speed along the way.
“Them (Pop Song #3333)” also ventures close to Broken Social Scene territory, due in large part to both Emily Haines’ vocal contribution as well as Jessica Moss’ lovely violin arrangement. And the rambling bassline, which seems to be doing its own thing and yet perfectly accents everything else, adds a certain infectious quality to the track.
The disc moves back into the same wide-open spaces that Do Make Say Think occupies with its final track, “Is And Of The.” In some ways, it’s the exact opposite of the album’s opening track; here, it’s as if the instruments never wake up but play out in their dreaming. Eventually, a guitar rings out from amidst the hazily shifting tones and wheezy horns, accompanied by a sparse drumbeat, but they seem to be sleepwalking, still lost in a torpor.
And it remains that way, even as more instruments join in, for a glorious 13 minutes or so. It’s the complete inverse of a crescendo. The song seems fully intent on circling back into itself rather than exploding outwards, on drawing the listener into its intimate little world gently and assuredly rather than simply trying to overwhelm and lay them out flat on their back.