Do Make Say Think - & Yet & Yet
If you're bothering to read this, chances are you know how you like your music. You know whether you like no-frills directness or layers, subtlety, a bit of mystery. Maybe you get off on both, but anyone whose single biggest thrill of 2001 was the hard-edged simplicity of the White Stripes can probably look away now, because visceral Detroit blues this resolutely ain't. Go on, go and read the NME. The others and I have things to discuss.
If the current vogue for immaculately-coiffed musical graverobbing gives you a headache, think of Do Make Say Think as a big fucking Anadin. They're post-rockers from Canada who live in log cabins by a lake and plant redwoods while their morning coffee is brewing. And run a recycling plant. Or something. That might have been a bit of a lie, but the point is their layered instrumentals don't give off the merest whiff of city streets; it all feels natural, organic. Homely. The album even comes packaged in wholesome-looking chipboard, like a bar of vegetable soap.
Sounds dull on paper, but it's lovely stuff. DMST plant single themes like seeds, expanding and embellishing them so subtly they seem to be growing of their own accord. Not uncommon tactics for post-rockers, but whereas others can take upwards of ten minutes to get to the point DMST develop things at just the right pace, and deliver sublime melodic touches throughout. Their instrumentation marks them out too, swathing the standard guitar/bass/drums in horns, strings, touches of electronica and a haunting female wail on Soul And Onward. It's hard to pick a winner, but End of Music is particularly strong, lulling you into a false sense of security with a slow start then opening out into spacious, mind-warpingly enjoyable drone-rock, and fading away to what sounds like a robotic grasshopper. But almost certainly isn't. Another standout, Reitschule, kicks off with barely-there guitar, builds to a Mogwai-style climax and subsides into a bubbly bassline and skittering drums, before having guitars and distant horns piled back on. Brilliantly, the bass figure then repeats endlessly while the tension builds again, until what sounded playful becomes insistent and disturbing, a sense of manic urgency you can't shake. See what I mean? Not one of your Stooges revival records.
It's not often that post-rock is this accessible and this pleasurable without straying into poppier waters. Melodies are pushed long enough to give them that hypnotic quality Stereolab are fond of, but not for so long that you drift off; in any case something new has just sidled stealthily into the mix, and the drums have hopped from your left to your right speaker without so much as a by-your-leave, and what the hell was that strange analogue burble? & Yet & Yet will find itself back in the stereo again and again, because you're constantly catching up with yourself as it plays.
Like Boards of Canada's deep, dense albums it's a product of studio wizardry (though sadly for AS editor and Yes apologist Peter Kenny not in the cape-wearing Rick Wakeman sense), richly detailed and with sinister tones beneath its lush surface. Frankly, it's a joy. NME readers, come on back - I'll do quick review for you: There are no pictures of haircuts. So don't buy it. Tune in next month and we'll put up some photos of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's heads.
(c) Nathan Midgley 2002