Cheer-Accident Credit: Vilma Jovaisa

Drummer Thymme Jones has been pushing Chicago’s most unpredictable art-rock band, Cheer-­Accident, in unexpected directions for more than three decades. On Putting Off Death (Cuneiform)—the band’s first album in six years—Cheer-Accident both embrace and mock their prog-rock roots. Jones’s outfit has already explored gorgeously refined piano-driven melodies such as the one that animates album opener “Language Is,” but rarely with such sophistication and lyrical beauty. The song veers wildly about three and a half minutes in, with a tension-creating polymetric workout that Jones shapes (thanks to overdubbing) on both piano and drums. The tune moves through peaks and valleys, with swirling drones smacking into tricky tempos, slaloming riffs, and slinking trombone, and then dissolves into a mass of electronic static. And that’s just the first track. As Jones has noted in promotional materials, there is no overarching theme to Putting Off Death, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold together. Songs in the middle of the record are marked by tight, dissonant arrangements where the core of Jones, guitarist Jeff Libersher, and bassist Dante Kester create lockstep patterns with a slew of harmony singers and horn players. On vocals, Jones alternates between hooky crooning and spazzy yelping. The album concludes with the lovely ballad “Hymn,” which melts the sound of early Genesis down into something lean and airy. Cheer-Accident have another album due out later this year, and what tonight’s show will entail is anyone’s guess.   v