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Years – Years

Years – Years (Arts & Crafts Records; released May 5th, 2009)years

As far as I can tell, I’m still a teenager- people have told me they remember the person I used to be, as if I’ve undergone some major changes, but to me- it’s all still right here. Because for all the events that shape us over the years, we’re still pretty much who we’ve always been. Hours turn into days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years. Thirty-two times around the sun and I still laugh at people falling down, think “poopy” is a hilarious word, think the A-Team was the greatest TV show ever and probably still haven’t gotten over the first time my heart was broken.

That’s probably Ohad Benchetrit‘s whole thing as well. He of Canadian post-rock giants Do Make Say Think (and frequent collaborator with Broken Social Scene, Leslie Feist and band-mate Charles Spearin) has released his first solo record, and it’s a lovely orchestrated twelve songs containing excellent acoustic guitar work, heavily fragmented samples, studio trickery, in-the-pocket bass playing as well as his trademark saxophone and flute. It’s largely an instrumental project, vocals show up in the form of samples, and there’s a short passage on a track that contains some hushed whispering, but mostly it just sounds like a man in the studio, trying different things with music that his day job doesn’t necessarily allow. The aforementioned¬† Spearin also made a really nice solo record this year, and it’s nice to be able to see what it is that Ohad brings to DMST without too much input from the rest of his gang.

So what is this album exactly? A finely interwoven series of songs; there’s a lot of acoustic folk in odd tunings paired next to mellow rockers, a classical piece juxtaposed up against big horns and electric keyboards with booming rock drums- it’s an album that seamlessly melts into itself as much as it sets a specific mood, yet dynamic enough to not hang onto one feeling for too long. As “post-rock” does, it’s both ample and interesting enough to be listened to with great attention (as the experience of active listening would entail for a fan of the genre) or just be in the background as light reading music.

Take the “big rocker” from YearsThe Major Lift; it’s set to a rollicking and heavy beat with magnificent horns right up top of the mix as a deftly played arpeggio on the guitar and bass intertwine somewhere around the middle. It’s a heavier sounding track without being oppressive; I mentioned “studio trickery” earlier- towards the bottom of the song there’s some machine-gunning with the drums, no doubt something cool being done with ProTools (unless Benchetrit is one of those old-fashioned guys that did all that crazy shit with endless hours in the studio splicing two-inch tape together a la Zappa and Beefheart).

Studio trickery aside, and there’s a lot; backwards masking on the track 44, a similar “machine gun” affectation with done with synths on Hey Cancer… Fuck You! and some static effect added to make it faux lo-fi (or faux-fi, I guess), there’s a real distinct care taken to make this album unique- and as is the case it’s the end result. There’s nothing else this year I’ve heard that comes close to the overall scope of Years‘ vision- there are so many ideas on this record I could see Benchetrit having a sustainable career just from his solo stuff, in case Do Make Say Think go somewhere…

…which, knock on wood- I hope not, I’m just saying is all.

Tracklisting:

1 Kids Toy Love Affair
2 Don’t Let The Blind Go Deaf
3 Are You Unloved?
4 Hey Cancer…Fuck You!
5 Binary Blues
6 A Thousand Times A Day (Someone Is Flying)
7 The Assassination Of Dow Jones
8 Lasantha Wickrematunge
9 September 5. October 21. 2007
10 The Fall Of Winter
11 The Major Lift
12 44

Years