Other Truths dares you not to hum along
by DJ Matticus Rex
Do. Make. Say. Think. A list of instructions; suggestions, perhaps. Sound strange to you? Well, welcome to
post-rock, where the music is almost as strange as the band names. For a genre this obscure, an introduction is in order; most people have never heard of it, and many who have still have no clue what it is, so don’t feel bad if it takes a bit of explanation.
Post-rock is, according to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge) “the use of ‘rock instrumentation’ for non-rock purposes.” There are rarely any words. Post-rock is what you listen to when you want music, but you also need to be able to think about other things, or when you don’t want to think at all. It lacks the aggressive demand for attention of most popular music, and that can be a welcome change for many.
Toronto natives Do Make Say Think, whose sixthalbum “Other Truths” came out October 6th, are considered forefathers of the genre, alongside bands such as Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. I’ll be honest; I’d listened to them quite a bit, but I had never quite “clicked” with their music until this release. They’ve often been criticized for being minimalistic, boring, and repetitive, and until now I would have agreed wholeheartedly. This album, however, is something different. I can no longer step away from my iPod. My personal relationships have suffered because of this album, and strangely, I don’t mind. It’s just that good, and I hope I can explain these four tracks that stretch about 43 minutes well enough that you’ll understand why.
Perfumes are described as having sets of “notes,“ which unfold slowly and work together to make a (hopefully) pleasing blend. Many of DMST’s songs could be described using the same metaphor (though, incidentally, more literally). Track one, aptly named “Do,” begins with a lone, undistorted electric guitar picking out an achingly beautiful melody. One by one, more instruments are added as both volume and anticipation build to a climax, as is common in post-rock. Several of these climaxes come in quick succession, and then the track begins to devolve in an orderly fashion to a serene, ambient electronic melody, eventually fading to a close.
“Make” begins (gradually, as usual) with a pseudo-European tribal feeling that is realized several minutes into the piece with a low chanting. The track continues its journey with a growing “rock” vibe and builds to the album’s climax (which, as in life, comes in the center), but just when you think you’ve caught on, the track changes direction and slows down, ending in a slow dirge of horns and quiet guitars.
Twin pieces “Say” and “Think” depict a much more pensive and haunting scene, and while they more often slip into repetition, they never truly become a bore (even to my wife, whose idea of being driven to insanity involves being forced to listen to old Do Make Say Think on repeat). These tracks are mellow, but still lend themselves to further inspection for their complexities if one has the time. “Think” draws to a close at a haunting whisper, providing a perfect end to an album that accomplishes the goal of all cerebral music: to portray life as it is, in all of its raw comedy and tragedy.
Give this album a try. Who knows, you might be able to add a new genre to that “Music” block on your Facebook.
88.1 WKNC DJ Pick of the Week is published in every Tuesday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.