In the same way that Tool redefine musical boundaries and structures, so do Minutian from Finland. ”Repercussions” matches the claim they make to have an unusual angle on progressive music. What is remarkable is that it is their debut album. So what’s unusual about it?
I think the glue is that this album is recognisably prog, so it’s never in danger of becoming experimental and accordingly it’s not hard to get hold of. Each track reflects a changing set of moods, as a day (in the UK anyway) might have clouds, rain, sunshine and a few other things besides. The mixture of time patterns without losing fluidity is the thing. “Hole”, the opener, is mellow yet sinister. It is pure prog but packed with crunchy power and unusual quirks. It’s kind of insane but holds together. The singer has the ability to convey the emotion of a prog vocalist, while having the unsettling and almost childlike qualities of his counterparts from Green Carnation and Audrey Horne. Pittery-pattery rhythms and hypnotic guitar patterns then mix with power and emotion on “In Circles”. A modern band I could compare this with is Mely, but there’s also a calm 70s prog rock feel too. A parallel has been made with King Crimson. I’d certainly agree with that. What could be emotional slush captures the imagination and bounces off walls, not least because of the musical invention. “In Circles” has an electric ending with its utterly gripping guitar-driven melody. Subtle touches seep through at every twist and turn. There’s a delightful xylophonic sound which crops up from time to time, taking us into wonderland. Sometimes I found that progress could be slow could be static as I waited for the next quirk or push into the next passage, but we’re never far away from imaginative and captivating rhythms here.
The distorted guitar line of “Give In” recalls very clearly the rhythm of Ephel Duath. Minutian keep hold of this atmosphere by retaining the rhythm and supplementing it with more quiet guitar work and vocals which, like the track itself, fall somewhere between the sinister and insane. Waves lap against the sea, there is a mechanical sound and another memorable rhythm commences, based on a solid rock riff. The sound is light and airy. “Undone” has the air of a classic rock track and is ballad-like in its deliberateness. Delicate prog vocals return on “Isolation”, another multi-faceted track. The rhythmic progression is funky, but the highlight is the way that the track builds up quietly, breaking off through both mildly distorted and gentle guitar sections to a melancholic climax. And then, in what I can only describe as the prog metal equivalent of Diablo Swing Orchestra, there’s “Three by Five”. I detect a faintly Latin sound at the start but as the track progresses, the imperious drum supports an imposing rhythm. It’s a relatively short track at just over 4 minutes, and I thought that Minutian could have made more of it. It is however testimony to the range of ideas that you’ll find on this album.
In spite of being recorded over a couple of years, I didn’t sense any lack of continuity about this album. Each track is different but the thread is that of prog music. In fact by keeping to the core values of classic prog, this album could be seen as limited. While wallowing in the invention and clever patterns of “Repercussions”, I felt at times that it could have been more expansive and more colourful but for a debut this is a strong platform from which to build.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)