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Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions

Constellation

Do Make Say Think - Stubborn Persistent IllusionsThis is Do Make Say Think‘s seventh album for Constellation since their inception twenty years ago and the first in eight years and it is a glorious, Technicolor addition to their already wonderful pantheon. For me, no other band sounds like DMST, and although I didn’t manage to listen to 2009’s Other Truths, the previous album to that, 2007’s You, You’re A History In Rust, was instrumental heaven.

So, what has an absence of eight years done for the band? If anything, it has imbued them with an even greater desire to wring as much emotion and motion, as much drama and colour and as many thrills as they can from their historic incarnation.

My first few listens to this album took place in the garden of some friends; surrounded by nature and by a wide variety and extraordinary array of colours, textures and aromas. Late Spring is the time when the natural world comes happily into life and shows everything it has to offer at its best. The vivid, vivacious and constant fluttering of the band really soundtracks this burst of life, and the kaleidoscopic motion and joie de vivre that they evoke makes me think of the Muhammad Ali quote about floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. However, Do Make Say Think’s sting is the sweet sting of musical ecstasy, finding us again and again.

Eight tracks spread across sixty minutes means that plenty of time is given for the band’s magic to insinuate itself into your senses, each track on Stubborn Persistent Illusions drifting and spreading, evolving and pursuing its own agenda. “Horripulation” is so friendly and inquisitive, not as its title would suggest; everything chimes and glistens like droplets on a silver lake, lurking in a woodland glade. The drums lend gravitas and drama, and when the gorgeous guitar figure re-appears after a little interlude, it sweeps everything along. There is a sense of joy in the slow build as more guitars swoop like falcons over the pastoral landscape constructed by the rhythm section.

It doesn’t end there; the guitar interplay on “Her Eyes On The Horizon” is crystalline in its shimmering purity, with organ tones aching in response as the drums skip and frolic. It feels like the surge of warmth we receive as the sun appears from behind clouds, and this sensation almost causes your heart to melt; but the band does not let up. A further surge of guitar imagery is dizzying in its intensity as the original interplay reappears and gradually drifts from view, leaving us briefly at a loss.

There is introspective folk pastoralism on “d=3.57√h” (AKA “As Far As The Eye Can See”) as a cello drone and trumpet blare lead us gently into a free breakdown, but with a hazy, dappled backdrop which is light and clear. It descends further into drone territory, but a gradual build as it exits its leafy lair leads us closer to civilisation. The guitars swoop and soar, and the vista is magnificent, gentle yet widescreen, the constant motion at this point soft like waves or a faint breeze.

One of their secret weapons is an intuitive understanding of how long a track needs to be to really affect the listener and when the time is right to return to the original motif that started the track off. The simple guitar interplay on “Shlomo’s Son” is so affecting that it made the hair on my arms stand up. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is full of those moments, the sort where you take a deep breath and try to remember when you were last floored by the sheer beauty of a band in perfect harmony, taking you on the kind of pastoral sonic journey that leaves you ever so slightly changed, and I am thrilled to report that this album is one of those. The final track, “Return, Return Again”, leads us to the tranquillity of a Monet pond, piano droplets at dawn, a haze, a gentle, soporific end to a vibrant journey and allows us the time we need to come back to normality.

Eight years is a long time to wait — but for something this good, it is well worth every minute.

-Mr Olivetti-

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