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Music Consumption: Don Caballero
04/05/2002 Don Caballero: What Burns Never Returns

Lately I've been listening to this one a lot. It wasn't their last one, but it was the last studio recording with Mike Banfield still in the band, and for me it's their creative peak. "Don Caballero 3" picks up literally where the previous disc left off (same drumbeat--neat idea) and builds from there. The nearly three-minute introduction builds tension appropriately until the piece shifts into another introductory riff, which shifts again at 3:30, leading up to the open dramatic figures that follow it at the four minute mark, and it keeps changing from there. What a band--this piece just keeps building. It's a real pocket symphony.

"In The Abscence Of Strong Evidence To The Contrary, One May Step Out Of The Way Of The Charging Bull" is another fine highlight, with the interlocking finger-tapping, and a fine moment for Pat Morris's bass. I think I've been listening to this album again as a result of working with a fine drummer who kind of reminds me of Damon Che here. (I actually don't think he's familiar with the Don; I'm going to have to introduce him to the music.) The whole-band interplay on this one is thrilling and moving, and not without its humor. It's not just about counting.

"Delivering The Groceries At 138 Beats Per Minute" is, in comparison with most Don stuff by this point, a pop number. You can see why Southern put it up as the .mp3 single. Rocky, grooving, infectious. "Slice Where You Live Like Pie" in a way combines the previous three tracks with Che's salsa-esque cowbell, the guitarists' tapping and clustered riffs...but again the piece expands and contracts, ebbs and flows, grooves and slows...with some distorted peaks.

The pinnacle of this disc, however, is "Room Temperature Suite," a concise (for the Don) piece that nonetheless could be called "sweeping." Many little sections that lead into each other, with actual emotional content. (Or at least what I perceive as actual emotional content.) It's another symphonic structure, and one of those glorious occasions on which a very promising band even exceeds that promise.

"From the Desk of Elsewhere Go" is another epic with a light touch in places, alternating consonance with dissonance, grooves with complex stumbling, and intensity with reflection, a real microcosm of their music. This one and the next one, "June Is Finally Here," with its clean, cyclical playing, do put one in a springtime frame of mind. A great listen for this time of year.