Essential New Music: Colpitts’ “Music From The Accident”

Pity whoever has to award the title Hardest Working Person In Show Business. How could you narrow it down to just one? The reality for most people playing music, after all, is one of ceaseless hustle. It certainly was for John Colpitts, who played in a myriad of musical settings under the show-biz name Kid Millions. He drummed for a band (Oneida), in improvisational settings (Jim Sauter, Jason Spaceman) and as a sideman (Boredoms, Royal Trux and many others). He also led a project (Man Forever) that combined ecstatic, ensemble drumming with a variety of compositional approaches. And then it all came to a stop, twice over. Those are the circumstances, if not exactly the story, of Music From The Accident, the first music that Colpitts has released under his own name. 

If February 2018, Colpitts was on the way to the airport after a recording session when a drunk driver back-ended his ride. Injured badly enough to be out of action for six months, Colpitts recovered to the point where he put together and toured a talking-and-drumming performance about the experience. And then COVID came, and it was time for him to do this record. 

Music From The Accident is, unlike the one-man show or the last Man Forever record, wordless. But it does relate a before, during and after recovery sequence in sound. “Bread” consists mostly of synthesized pulses frosted with brushed percussion. It conveys a condition of woozy hyper-alertness that corresponds to the state that Colpitts often found himself in during pre-accident times, when he paid the bills by driving a bread-delivery truck while most of the city slept. Drums appear on “Up And Down,” but they’re nothing like the surging force that Colpitts routinely delivered with Man Forever or Oneida. Instead, one slow, rudimentary beat pattern is set against another, evoking the experience of relearning the basics. 

And then, in true show-biz fashion, comes the big finale, big in dimensions (it’s 16 fully earned minutes long) and also in spirit. “Recovery” begins like an uncoiling snake, with some very beyond-rudimentary drums and booming synthesizer joining together to form a chaotic backdrop to Jessica Pavone’s keening, cathartic viola. It doesn’t so much proclaim that the Kid is back as exult in the feeling of being back. When it’s done, you might find yourself letting loose a cheer and hitting the repeat button in order to hear it again.

—Bill Meyer