Fred Frith has been heard in all possible contexts, from solo improviser to composer of orchestral music, but he remains at his best when trapped in a studio, alone or with a few musicians, building layered pieces. This process previously yielded stunning albums such as the delicate Middle of the Moment or the avant rocking Speechless. Accidental features Frith performing all instruments and voices, mostly guitars, violin, junk percussion, and random radio tuning. This music was commissioned by the British choreographer Paul Selwyn Norton for a dance piece made with the Batsheva Company in Tel Aviv (Israel). It was recorded in 1995-1996 and released on CD only in March 2002. Frith blends chord progressions arching back to his Henry Cow days with modern electronic manipulations and his accumulated experience as a composer. Each of the 11 short pieces establishes a stark atmosphere, culminating in the title track, which features an inspired violin solo over non-sequential organ chords. "Absinthe Memories (For Phil Minton)" holds quite a surprise: Frith actually parodies his longtime experimental vocalizing friend. "The Tangled Bank" and "Their Blood Is Black and Yellow" contain harsh guitar strumming, the latter sounding close to the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet's music. Accidental may not be as ambitious, challenging, or cutting-edge as the man's other output from the 1990s, but it sure sounds sweet to fans of his avant rock work from the previous two decades. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by François Couture