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SF Prog Rockin

A Minor Forest
(Thrill Jockey)

Dammit. Once again, I'm completely behind the curve on a music group and finally get around to purchasing one of their releases after they've broken up. With every case, I've ended up missing the boat by only a few months, and in this bands case, I may actually have something to look forward to. According to press releases, they're planning a 2CD set of their B-sides and other work to be released around the end of 1999 or so.

Being a fan of several Thrill Jockey bands, I had always heard the name A Minor Forest kicked around, but unfortunately never really took the time to look into things more. Either I didn't have enough money, or I would forget while I was at the music store, or some other reason. Besides that, I had a hard time finding snippets of their music to whet my appetite with. Fortunately, www.brainwashed.com (a great music resource, by the way) came to the rescue with more information on the band, as well as minute bites of about 6 different AMF songs.

To best describe the sound of A Minor Forest, one could possibly draw comparisons to groups such as Mogwai, Slint, and even some of the more acoustic numbers by Tortoise. Their songs are mostly instrumental and cover quite the gamut of musical dynamics during songs that vary in length from about 4 minutes to over 18. They even manage to let a healthy sense of humor show with song titles like "Look at that car, it's full of balloons" and "...It's salmon!!!" (exclamation points included). Employing the standard guitar, bass, drum combo (as well as other random instruments like organ, piano, synth, and turntables), the group manages quite an interesting sound.

The disc starts out with the nearly 6 minute "The Dutch Fist." It opens with some gentle guitar strums and random tape noise, but moves through a complete non-structure and bursts into controlled sonics on a couple occassions. Things drag out a bit in a couple places on the 18-minute "The smell of hot," but the parts when it does pick up make up for things. The great 1-2 follow-up of loud and stutter-stepping "Michael Anthony" and the delicate album closer "Discoier" provide a nice bookend on the disc.

Overall, the disc is an excellent release from a band who has now gone by the wayside. Everyone involved has moved onto different projects fortunately, so at least there's promise of more musical output from the former SF band (that, and the afformentioned 2CD set). Throw in another excellent package design, and you've got quite a nice disc.

Rating: 7.5