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Prog Rock Yell

A Minor Forest
Flemish Altruism (Constituent Parts 1993-1996)
(Thrill Jockey)

If A Minor Forests album Inindependence was them showing off their more sensitive side, then Flemish Altruism is the disc where they're raw as hell. It's a strange album, not only because it was their first one and not only because the 10 songs are split between two producers, but because many of the songs on the album have that bipolar feel to them as well. Even though they've since broken up, the trio was definitely an interesting one, releasing post-rock tracks that sometimes soothed and sometimes screamed.

As mentioned before, though, the music seems to be a little more rough around the edges on this release than on their later disc. After opening the album with a rather quiet track that slowly builds, but never overwhelms, the second track, "Bill's Mom Likes To F*ck" takes its time getting going as well. There are a few sporatic bursts and subsequent slowdowns on the first half of the track before things boil down into almost a normal song structure that is quite beautiful.

The group takes their time once more on the languid "Ed Is 50" before barrelling into the nearly 15-minute screamfest of, "So Jesus Was At The Last Supper." It's one of those tracks that feels like it's always growing and spiraling out of control, yet always seems to come back around and tie together. Perhaps it makes sense that the even tracks on the disc were produced by Steve Albini, as they all seem to be the ones with the most fury and raw power. "Speed For Gavin" and "Dainty Jack and His Amazing Technicolor Cloth Jacket" are shorter numbers that is completely blistering while several of the odd tracks (produced by the also-great Bob Weston) feature the backing of a cello and seem to be a little more patient.

Basically, if you've heard other music by the group, or don't mind your post rock with some vocals (and quite a bit of screaming and yelling on this release), you'll probably enjoy A Minor Forest. Considering all the lighter sounding jazz stuff (not that it's bad) that's being released on the Thrill Jockey label now, it's kind of a breath of fresh air to know that they indeed have releases that flat-out rock as well. Not only that, but this album has some of the most consistently funny song titles around. A good album by a good, but short-lived band.

Rating: 7.5