Do Make Say Think: & Yet & Yet

Toronto's Do Make Say Think record distinctive post-rock on Constellation, the Montréal-based label most widely known as the home of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Similarities between the two end there, however, as Do Make Say Think eschews Godspeed's apocalyptic histrionics for a less dramatic but more soulful and relaxed instrumental approach. & Yet & Yet, their third recording following the 2000 release Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead, exudes a casual air that belies the degree of care lavished upon its construction. Like Tortoise, Do Make Say Think occupies an enviable position in the post-rock spectrum as its myriad influences of dub, rock, jazz, and electronics are integrated so fully that no one style predominates. Instead, all such aspects manifest themselves organically in the recording's seven tracks. Formed in 1995-6, the band is comprised of Charles Spearin (bass, trumpet), Justin Small (guitar) James Payment (drums), Ohad Benchetrit (guitar, horns, keyboards), and drummer Dave Mitchell. (The band name, incidentally, originated in 1995 when core members Spearin, Benchetrit, Small, and Payment joined forces to score music for a youth drama production, and convened in an empty elementary classroom to rehearse, where the four basic verbs 'Do,' 'Make,' 'Say,' and 'Think' were displayed.) On this 2002 recording, they're joined by Brian Cram on horns and Tamara Williamson on vocals.

Bits of static open “Classic Noodlanding” before it segues into a quintessential Do Make Say Think construction comprised of an imaginative syncopated rhythm coupled with intertwining guitar melodies. “End of Music” begins with a submersive intro that suddenly explodes into ambient flurries of Fripp-like razor guitars massing in the background. The Tortoise influence is most evident on “White Light Of” and “Chinatown,” with its bass figure and muted percussion floating above ambient street sounds. In “Reitschule,” a gentle intro of two guitars dynamically swells to a percussive crescendo, which then drops away to leave a single bass, plucked guitar, and eventually a trumpet calling out a plaintive solo. The last two tracks end & Yet & Yet in a deep and graceful manner. “Soul and Onward” boasts a beautiful, yearning melody augmented by Williamson's wordless vocalizing. Muted horn lines, a repeatedly plinked piano key, multi-tracked vocals, and sleigh bells combine to create an angelic, euphoric mood. Finally, “Anything for Now” is perhaps even more lovely with its wistful melody voiced by guitar against the drummers' brushes and cymbals. Waves of strumming guitars, keyboards, and percussion form a backdrop to the interweaving guitar and bass melodies.

In general, compositions are through-composed with soloing kept to a minimum and, consequently, there is an absence of self-indulgent noodling. In spite of that, the feel remains loose and spontaneous throughout. While the main melody lines are often handled by the guitars and horns, the bass and drums assume lead roles too. In general, there's no one instrument that assumes a predominating lead voice. The band instead creates a dense sound woven together from its disparate parts. Electronics are used to generate ambience and provide a dense underpinning to the acoustic instrumentation. There is a palpable joy, exuberance, and energy that comes through in the musicians' playing. A sensitivity to texture is present, and the group avoids the clumsy heaviness that often results with two drummers in a band. They don't try to outdo one another but instead play with restraint, subtlety, and an appreciation for nuance. Ultimately, with so much attention concentrated upon the landmark recordings of their Godspeed label-mates, Do Make Say Think's lower profile has enabled the band to develop fortuitously without an exorbitant degree of media scrutiny and pressure. Consequently, the group has been able to release music of the caliber found on & Yet & Yet with seeming ease. It would be a shame if the band's less charismatic persona prevented the uninitiated from realizing that instrumental post-rock of such quality is so readily available in its midst.

February 2003