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White Noise: Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet

Do Make Say Think occupy a curious space in the music world. Their post-rock instrumental tracks lack the cinematic sweep of fellow Canadians Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and their compositions are too subtle and at times intense to be listened to and really enjoyed casually without just fading into the background. But it is this exact middle-distance that makes them so special.

This music is about tension and release, it is a group of people expertly using their instruments to evoke time and longing, but again there is an unusual twist to these evocations, there is no sadness or particularly strong emotion displayed in their music. Theirs is an emotion of restraint, the sort of music you could listen to whilst sitting alone on a bench and contemplating your own death, without having any strong feelings on the matter one way or the other.

The album definitely works best as a whole. The sounds aren't surprising: rich layers of guitars and percussion are applied minimally to the compositions, swelling and fading with an utter fluidity absent in a lot of similar artists in the genre. Guitars interlace with synths and bass lines score smooth grooves into peaks and troughs that reject the typical post-rock formula of predictable build-ups and drops. Opener Classic Noodlanding is a masterclass in building tension, with the guitars layered expertly onto expectant percussion and then at the 2 minute mark there is a tonal shift; it doesn't sound particularly different but the mood of the entire track has opened up, it is now allowed the space to breathe and luxuriate in the rich composition. The tracks are perfectly sequenced and each one has its own beautiful subtleties to unveil, each sound is alive and perfectly placed. The brass that cries out halfway through Reitschule is quelled before it really has time to speak up, the emotions of these tracks are beneath the surface. White Light Of builds to a fever-pitch and then fades back to where it began, whilst in fantastic album closer Anything For Now a classic DMST instrumental battles with a wash of noise across the course of the track, one superseding the other until it fades in a contented hum. Part of what's so remarkable is that throughout the course of the track the music changes so naturally that it comes as a surprise when you realise you're suddenly listening to a single electronic tone. In my personal favourite track, Soul and Onward, a haunting vocal line punctuates the analogue soundfield so carefully layered with lo-fi synths.

This is music with which you can apply your own associations and emotions, its not uncommon to describe an album as music that scores the world around you, but this one does it superbly. The textures of these tracks draw no attention to themselves, but if you listen closely to them there is an intricacy that is simply a joy to behold, these are instrumentals suspended in a timeless, placeless limbo waiting for the listener to breathe life into them. It is this sense of restraint and meditation that makes this album shine so quietly yet so brilliantly.


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