A robust expedition party joins Kid Millions on Play What They Want. Not unlike the way he last paired with the So Percussion quartet on Ryonen in 2014, here Millions collaborates on three of the album's five tracks with the Brooklyn-based beat-centric trio TIGUE. The record's ensemble cast is unsurprisingly impressive given that its curator has a reach into many tiers of independent and experimental music.
Drums have always been the focal point of Kid Millions' Man Forever project, whose first two albums were 35-minute barrages of mind-scrambling percussive torrents accentuated only by skin-crawling bass guitar, and with the pause to flip the record over being the only opportunity for breath. Since signing to Thrill Jockey in 2012, the group's recordings have become more nuanced and hypnotic, and 2014's Ryonen (in collaboration with So Percussion) introduced vocals to the sonic palette. With 2017's Play What They Want, Man Forever have practically written a pop album -- albeit a pop album more heavily informed by the histories of free jazz, avant-garde, and contemporary classical music than Top 40 radio.
For all of ten seconds, Man Forever's Play What They Want seems like it could be a nightmare. Led by drummer John Colpitts, the album's first syncopated clonks briefly suggest an oncoming Santana-style superjam. But the panic subsides quickly with a rising drone, the arrival of an upright bass, and the familiar voices of Yo La Tengo in full dreamy splendor.
Oneida drummer John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions) has consistently returned to his Man Forever project to push at the boundaries of his drumming, working with a new cast of collaborators on each release. For Play What They Want, Colpitts and Brooklyn-based ensemble TIGUE Percussion partner with some legendary guests, and the result is an expansive, writhing body of busy, ego-less playing delivered with a beating, beaming heart.
Riding in on double bass and hypnotic polyrhythms, the buoyant "You Were Never Here" opens the album with an ethereal, Yo La Tengo-supplied vocal chorus and a drone accompaniment drifting over its boiling march.
Photo by Landon Nordeman Play What They Want by Man Forever A drum roll ran on end-to-end in the first Man Forever album, John Colpitts (who is also Kid Millions in Oneida) finding an endless fractious groove that ebbed and flowed but fundamentally continued. It was percussion distilled to its essence. But even at that early date, he seemed to crave collaboration.
Man Forever's Play What They Want is undeniably a New York record. As big apple juicy as the paintings of Keith Haring, Steve Reich's 'Electric Counterpoint' and Frank O' Hara's lunchtime reveries; Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and Laurie Anderson standing on a slowly melting block of ice. It's all fire escapes and hydrants, poetry bookshops and gloopy yellow mustard from encrusted squeezy bottles.