Reviews Do Make Say Think You, You're a History in Rust

Do Make Say Think

You, You're a History in Rust

Instrumental music, I’ve found, requires patience to fully appreciate it. Sitting through detached, quiet parts of songs is by no means difficult, but it can definitely test a listener’s musical patience. Canadian cohorts Do Make Say Think have been writing instrumental music since the mid 90’s. Akin to label-mates Godspeed You! Black Emperor, they write extremely cohesive, powerful and moving albums.

Fans of this instrumental Canadian outfit will notice one delicate change on You, You’re a History in Rust: vocals. The vocals become a comforter on the already heavily blanketed bed of sound. Do Make Say Think shares members with Toronto’s Broken Social Scene. You, You’re a History in Rust is similar to Broken Social Scene’s Feel Good Lost in that it’s predominantly an instrumental album with minimal vocal parts. When there are vocals present, they’re sung very slowly and blend subtly with the music (see “A With Living,” “A Tender History in Rust” and “In Mind”).

Most of the band’s songs start slowly and reach a plateau. The album-opener “Bound to Be That Way” commences with distant drums, which segues into a sporadic accompaniment of guitar and horns. Do Make Say Think’s drumming is so catchy and interesting, you won’t be disappointed when it’s the only instrument you’ll hear. “The Universe!” is the anomaly on You, You’re a History in Rust - it starts with galactic force, never slowing down until the last thirty seconds of the song. This album has much variety in styles and sounds in comparison to the band’s previous releases; however, Do Make Say Think’s song formula has remained nearly the same—a good thing, I might add.

The crooning horns and flute will serenade you. The unique dual drumming will whale you. The melodic bass-driven tracks will have your head bobbing, keeping beat. The simple yet incredibly pleasing guitar riffs (and sometimes even banjo) will have you praying for more. Finally, the violin will make the whole thing sound like a damn orchestra—a miniature orchestra that’s easily accessible.

Assuming you’ll enjoy You, You’re a History in Rust, I’ll immediately recommend their older material (see & Yet & Yet and Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead). Their live show is impeccable and especially intense. If you have not already taken steps to benefit from this group, do so promptly.

8.8 / 10 — Tohm
See also
DMST's & Yet & Yet, self-titled, Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead, and Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

In recent years, post-rock has become the urban sprawl of independent music. Invasive, bloated, and undeniably comfortable, it has steadily, albeit consciously, delineated from its richer, more substantive origins to assume the role of pleasant background music, antiseptically reliable but hopelessly predictable. Tortoise’s feral meanderings and Mogwai’s bulky, aggressive overtones have been replaced by Explosions in the Sky’s brand of sanitized consonance and Mono’s overly dramatic pensiveness. It’s not that the offerings of Explosions in the Sky or Mono (or the busload of other contemporaries that base their musical existence on the twelve minute, crescendo-climax-outro formula) aren’t aesthetically appealing. Rather, it just seems as if the genre has lost its creative compass, settling for pedestrian acquiescence in lieu of any sort tangible imaginative progression.

Do Make Say Think’s fifth and latest full length, You, You’re a History in Rust, however, proves that all is not lost in the post-rock world. Certainly, upon first glance, the most remarkable aspect of the album is its application of vocals to several different tracks and its deeply texturized, pine and earth feel. Described by the band as “like moths drawn to a flame, instruments trace erratic circles around a flickering, elusive centre,” You, You’re a History in Rust is a continuation of Do Make Say Think’s non-studious and oft-pragmatic legacy. Like its predecessors, &Yet &Yet and Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn, You, You’re a History in Rust is a rational, cognitive evolution forward – the sort of artistic adeptness that is both wonderfully imaginative and eerily absent from other contemporary post-rock outfits.

Like all Do Make Say Think albums, individual songs are mere components within the greater architecture of the overall album. That is, the album is a collective patchwork of compromise, carefully, albeit dynamically, constructed to be appreciated as a singularly cohesive product. For example, the opening track, “Bound to Be that Way”, is meticulously and beautifully mired in ethereal irresolution: breathy percussion cautiously surrenders to an almost indifferent conglomerate of keys, coniferous guitar notes, and veiled wood instrumentation. The song serves as an introduction to You, You’re a History in Rust, a basal prelude to the organic theme of the album as a whole.

Widely commented upon by both band and critics is Do Make Say Think’s long-standing insistence upon recording in rural settings, relying upon the pastoral surroundings of sky, land, and water to serve as an operational catalyst. As such, there’s a certain disconnect between the music and human society, forcing the listener to patiently let the music unfurl itself. Such attitude is readily apparent on the album’s second track, “A With Living.” Cinematic in scope, “A With Living,” comes off like a slow-burning tragedy, sleepily developing before cautiously retreating.

The album progresses as such, with individual songs rolling forward in constrained waves of blue and green only to gently, yet determinedly, recede back into the expanse of the album as a whole. Louder songs such as “The Universe” give way to pliant, balmy tracks such as “A Tender History in Rust.”

The album’s final track, “In Mind,” is, perhaps, the most statuesque and uplifting song they’ve ever recorded. It’s ergonomically arcadian, a loftily constructed blur of vocals by the Akron/Family and plucky, stringent musical composition. Unquestionably hopeful, the track’s dense, scenic feel is perfectly punctuated by smartly illusory lyrics: “When you die, you’ll have to leave them behind. You should keep that in mind /When you keep that in mind, you’ll find a love as big as the sky.”

If there is, however, to be an identifiable problem with You, You’re a History in Rust, it is that the album, at times, expects too much out of the listener. Chasmal gaps and open plains of nothingness dance in and out of the album. As an example, take the album’s fifth track, “History of Glory:” For large portions of the song, it’s uneventful and arid, building into an uncomfortably dreamlike crescendo only to fall into a cavernously pointless mixture of sound and melody. Certainly, the track meshes with the thematic overtones of the album, but at what cost? As such, Do Make Say Think’s puritanical approach to collective continuity is counterproductive because the listener simply loses patience a skips to the next track.

While the album does feature its share of muted sensibilities and fruitless tangents, it would be nothing short of a calamity to label this effort as anything but extraordinary. You, You’re a History in Rust, in a cumulative sense, is an acutely cultivated yet complex entanglement of keenly written songs ripe with natural beauty. It’s an epiphany of sorts, a sort of nouvelle vague that decries musical complacency. In short, You, You’re a History in Rust is a state of mind as much as it as record. And hopefully, it’s a mindset that will catch on with at least some of the post-rock outfits that dot the musical landscape. But even if it doesn’t have the influential impact that it should, Rust is still one hell of a record and certainly bound to become one of 2007’s best.

8.7 / 10 — Toby
See also
DMST's & Yet & Yet, self-titled, Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead, and Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn
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8.75 / 10

8.75 / 10

Reviewed by 2 writers.

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