Do Make Say Think – & Yet & Yet

Do Make Say Think
& Yet & Yet

See, in my personal opinion, Constellation Record artists get a bad break by association anymore. I mean, everyone automatically associates Constellation artists with Godspeed You Black Emperor! and the Silver Mt. Zion Band, which really isn’t fair because anything that doesn’t sound exactly like those artists is bound to get slammed somehow. Sure, in a CD changer, I could set Do Make Say Think and GYBE! to play back to back without having to worry about killing any ‘moods’ or ‘atmospheres’ created by the music. DMST does have moments of audio resemblance to GYBE!, usually through similar sounding guitar parts. However, this release as a whole comes off as a much more ‘grounded’ listening experience, with a slightly more conventional setting and a lack of the symphonic flourishes that GYBE! and the Silver Mt. Zion Band frequently rely on.
& Yet & Yet, sonically, floats out of stereo speakers like Mogwai creating a Bizarro-world instrumental companion to Radiohead’s Kid A album. DMST has definitely put together a headphone-listening record this time around, as each song features minute and delicate layers of tracking that fill out the recordings. Through standard speakers, this album sounds inexplicably warm and full. The headphone listening is required to understand exactly why, though, as the various layers of background sounds become more obvious through headphones.
Portions of & Yet & Yet reveal hints of blues and jazz influences (in the drumming, especially) as well as the obvious shoegazer/space-rock/ambient connections. “White Light Of” is a great example of the slow-burning diversity of DMST, as the track starts off with a rock beat and delicately picked and strummed guitar parts that create a soothing, laid-back groove. The drumming changes ever so slightly as the track goes on, picking up a jazz-tinged bent while a horn lead is slowly phased into the track. Eventually, the horns become the centerpiece, and the drums just flat-out blow up all over the place in an impressive display of controlled jazz freak-out work. From there, everything just sort of disappears and leaves a few guitars and some effects to wind the track up in a quiet, unassuming manner.
“Chinatown” might be the best listen on & Yet & Yet, though, a lulling number with a whirling synth backing and a muted, droning backbeat. The track really just lopes along, but everything from the keyboards to the guitars and even the random inclusion of incidental outside sounds is so perfectly placed in the mix that it’s damned near impossible not to get completely lost in the track. A ‘shadow’ of a fuller backing beat floats into the mix with about two minutes left in the track, but it fades out undeveloped, leading the track into a slow disappearance of the whirling synth and incidental noise.
Now, in all honesty, there are portions of tracks that do resemble GYBE! material (such as the guitar sounds of the opening two-and-a-half minutes of “Reitschule”), but rather than leading into symphonic swells, these snippets tend to wander off or change pace a bit. In “Reitschule,” for example, the track quiets, then circles back somewhat – bringing a horn part back for good measure the second time around. The transitionary bass interlude halfway through the track picks up some sparse guitar, then a horn, then a horn section, and finally some keyboards and a piano, though all the while it still manages to sound like a quiet break. Eventually, drums give the enough of a rhythm to make the track ‘move’ again, but a fuzzy resurgence is quickly killed then brought back again, only to be eventually stifled once more for a nice quiet wind-down.
Album opener “Classing Noodlanding” starts off building a very eerie vibe, but as the rhythm section picks up steam, it becomes more of a disjointed lesson in ‘how to create a cohesive recording out of instrumental parts that don’t necessarily sound like they were meant to be played together.’ “End of Music” is a slow, airy sounding track that takes a near-blues rhythm and builds on it with a set of keyboards and synths that sound like the aural equivalent of a swarm of space bees flying through the stratosphere. From there, the track picks up and bursts into fuzzbuster space-rock territory (in another brief segment straight from the GYBE! songbook), punctuated with the slightest hint of synths and keyboards to accentuate some melody into the track.
Admittedly, not all the material here is 100% golden. “Soul and Onward” is a five-minute gait that really seems to be nothing more than filler, though the track is notable as the non lyrical female voice parts make this track the only material on the disc that features any sort of vocals at all. There’s a piano that pops up from time to time, and some of the horn parts are really nice, but overall, nothing makes this song stand out like the others. Album closer “Anything For Now” kicks off sounding like a tinny garage recording, and although the sound fills out over a few moments, the song never really seems to get on track. Most of the dreamy material on & Yet & Yet works very well, but for some reason, “Anything For Now” just comes off more like “Anything to Fill Nine More Minutes.” I guess the track isn’t a complete loss, though, as a cascade of low-fi acoustic guitar sounds rains down over close to the last two minutes of the track, creating a really nice sounding ‘waterfall of guitars’ effect.
All in all, repeated listenings and a decent set of headphones have proven Do Make Say Think’s & Yet & Yet to be a well-crafted album. While there are a few brief GYBE!-ish segments and two dragging tracks, the majority of this record is pretty good stuff for this genre. Of course, anyone that’s not into this long, drawn-out reflective stuff will probably just scream “Pretentious!” and run away, but I’ll let that go and leave those folks to their own devices. Recommended for fans of this sort of thing.