Happy Accidents


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Although the Happy Accidents only formed in the mid-'90s, the group's roots in the progressive Canterbury music scene stretch back to the very beginning: keyboardist and group leader Graham Flight was in the pioneering Wilde Flowers, having replaced Kevin Ayers in 1965. The group's second album, Scitatics, mixes the playfulness and turn-on-a-dime dynamics of Hatfield and the North with the restless experimental qualities of Henry Cow and the aggressive noisiness of the Rock in Opposition cadre of bands, blending it all into a challenging, at times cacophonous mixture of free jazz and avant rock. The higgledy-piggledy "The Bowl of Life" alone swings from a relatively straightforward, Latin-tinged opening into a Captain Beefheart-like orgy of atonality and back in the space of just over three minutes, and other tracks almost sound like they were arranged by throwing the sheet music into the air at random and then restacking the pages. And yet, there is nothing precious or academic about this music; it certainly helps that the rhythm section of Flight, bassist Nigel Hobbins, and drummer Matt Williamson play with that crucial combination of rhythmic looseness and absolutely clockwork timing. Challenging, but not impenetrable.

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