Music Reviews
Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

Do Make Say Think Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn

(Constellation) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

So, first a confession. I love this record label. Almost anything I say about an LP on Constellation will be biased. They have everything - Godspeed You!, beautiful eco-friendly packaging, cheap mail order, little notes that tell you not to pay extra for collectors editions because they've still got some cheap in a warehouse in Montreal somewhere, and a roster of rootsy, intelligent and politically aware artists. Winter Hymn... is a warm and introspective work that returns to the impressionistic and loose territory of DMST's earlier album Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead. It's an album of firesides and bedside tales, yet one driven by rock guitars and passionate percussion, close musically to contemporaries and peers like Hope of the States and Godspeed You!, but with a unique hymnal quality all of their own.

While tracks like Frederica work the quiet/loud formula that other post-rock giants like Mogwai have so perfected, there's a folkiness that's quite their own, alongside pumping drums that Doves would be proud of. War on Want draws on Schoenberg-esque atonality, but them Auberge le Mouton Moir offers a singularly bluesy, even funky turn. Outer Inner and Secret proffers a generation-leaping combination of prog and Doors-style pretension, while 107 reasons why has a lilting Celtic feel. Tracks like Ontario Plates reveal a jazzy seem, the sound of an illegal drinker with Kind of Blue or something by Dave Brubeck on in the background, all of which is a fine excuse for some off kilter drums and askew brass and strings. This sort of pleasant excess enjambes into the wonderfully titled Horns of a Rabbit, a display of about 5 tunes at once, a tonne of key changes, some John Cale-style amateur violin and a proud rock bass. Spectacular. Despite the title, closer Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! is nothing like the Polyphonic Spree; it starts as a very simple ballad for horn and Spanish guitar, and rolls into weird noise and, curiously, the sound of someone playing a saw.

I'm not sure that individually, many of the tunes and tracks on this album probably haven't been done before or elsewhere. But all the same, this is a brilliant and varied album, risky and excessive at times, yet compelling and open throughout. It's an album testing limits, seeking support, yet, importantly, an album which in large parts really enjoys rocking along with its listener. Am happy to join in.