An album with many moments of startling beauty on show.
Mike Diver 2009-10-13
Though they’ve attracted praise since the release of 1999’s self-titled debut, Ontario’s Do Make Say Think have struggled to break out of leftfield circles. Despite associations with well-known countrymen – guitarist and bassist Ohad Benchetrit has contributed to records by Broken Social Scene, Feist and The Hidden Cameras, for example – the outfit remain a mystery to many. And their sixth LP Other Truths is unlikely to change that.
Which isn’t to say it’s a bad record, at all, rather the opposite: it’s their best since 2003’s Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn, and a worthy successor to 2007’s superb You, You’re a History in Rust. It’s just that they’ve done the rounds for too long to ever be covered by the mainstream press as a new act, and to those who’ve followed them since their inception, well, crossover now would steal away an act that acolytes worldwide have come to truly treasure.
Mainly instrumental, in the manner of past releases, Other Truths is comprised of four lengthy pieces, titled Do, Make, Say and Think. What vocals there are come from Lullabye Arkestra’s Katia Taylor and members of experimental folk act Akron/Family, and are draped, spectral of form, atop the mesmerising arrangements conjured by the core creative quintet. Each track complements the next, yet can be appreciated as a standalone work of utmost excellence and elegance.
Opener Do layers guitar intricacies – think Battles jamming with a looseness unbecoming of their uncomfortable math-rock pigeonhole – atop skittering, jazz-like percussion, while all the while a bassline pulsates wonderfully in the background. Low-end flourishes are a key characteristic of the band, and the four strings eventually come to the fore just prior to a break to near silence. A simple guitar motif precedes a subtle compositional shift that sees the piece grow to a level of transcendental splendour that surpasses Arcade Fire at their euphoric best. The muted brass come the closing minutes of the otherwise menacing Make is another moment of startling beauty – and there are many on show across this album.
Think is perhaps a little too sedate for its own good, but nevertheless closes this record with a hushed confidence, its taut drumming and relaxed guitar lines, almost alt-country in feel, showcasing a band of masterful ability sliding to an understated climax. And come that stillness, the urge to repeat the experience swells irresistibly.