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Album Review

A Minor Forest's one actual studio album may not quite reach the heights of such conceptually (if not always musically) similar acts like Slint or Don Caballero, although there's the same sense of using rock instrumentation as a bed for something a lot more enveloping and grand, while keeping a certain punk edge that steers things away from wanky prog or its less worthy derivatives. Sometimes it's a matter of just the right sort of studio touch, like the suddenly stopped audiotape sound halfway through the opening number, "The Dutch Fist." Often it's because of the sense of space in the songs; while A Minor Forest can rock out fairly impressively, it's more noticeable that there are pauses, subtle shifts, a restraint in the sound, all accentuated by the final mix, rather than a continual crush a la Helmet or Godflesh. The guitar heroics that do appear, as on "Look at That Car, It's Full of Balloons," drive the songs along rather than using them as launching pads for wankery, aiming for a direct power rather than mindless technical hoohah. At its most sweetly beautiful, Inindependence slots right into the realm of such masters of restrained hush as the Velvets (on their third album) and Low, but A Minor Forest is just that little more angular and honed — it's not a comforting, enveloping feeling, but more a stark presentation. "The Smell of Hot" takes the longest-song-on-the-disc honors, but doesn't feel 18 minutes long at all, with its meditative approach slowly, softly continuing, disappearing, then returning in one last controlled burst after some tape-crumbling noise. Inindependence won't go down as a lost classic per se, but there's more here to enjoy than on many a record released as part of the go-nowhere post-rock haze and craze.


Formed: 1992 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Indie Rock

Years Active: '90s

Math-rock trio A Minor Forest formed in San Francisco in 1992, and comprised guitarist/vocalist Erik Hoversten, bassist John Trevor Benson and drummer Andee Connors. Forging a noisy, melancholy sound closer in spirit to midwestern post-rock than the dominant punk aesthetic of the Bay Area, the band struggled to build a local following, and when an offer to record an LP finally arrived, it came courtesy of Chicago-based Thrill Jockey. Recorded by Steve Albini, A Minor Forest's debut LP Flemish Altruism...
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