Gumballhead the Cat

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In the second half of 2003, Cheer-Accident released two new albums, the Steve Albini-produced Introducing Lemon and this more peripheral, collector-oriented recording. This CD comes packaged in a 7" sleeve accompanied by a 15-page Gumballhead the Cat comic. The music is meant to be a soundtrack to that comic, but you'd be forgiven for mistaking it as a collection of casual studio outtakes. The comic is filled with fighting, explosions, fires, and other fiascos, but the music is measured and controlled, meandering through loosely sequenced sections of vamping and improvisation with little melodic or rhythmic excitement to parallel the action in the story. There's also the practical issue of how slow one would have to turn the comic's pages in order for the music to keep pace -- roughly every four minutes. Soundtrack considerations aside, there are some nice moments here, including the banjo and bandoneon interplay on "The Mystery." But overall, the performances are overly laid-back and the material is not developed enough to sustain interest on its own. It's nebulous background music from a band that specializes in really active foreground music. Cheer-Accident does have musical ideas to spare, as shown on the occasionally excellent, occasionally maddening Introducing Lemon. This album, however, is less interesting and is more suited to die-hard Cheer-Accident fans, Skin Graft aficionados, and comic collectors than anyone else.

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