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Don Caballero - What Burns Never Returns CD (album) cover


Don Caballero


Post Rock/Math rock

3.65 | 48 ratings

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4 stars Damon Che is a monster. This whole goddamn band is. And led by the brilliant drummer, Don Caballero obnoxiously crashed the party with their third studio release, a relentless, unstoppable creation. The group's mysterious writing process is only outdone by the sheer will and physicality brought to the performance of the music, a progressed and braver follow-up to the spectacular Don Caballero 2 that has less to do with mathrock and more where this rare communion of players is able to go, and able to take us. We oblige, of course, because not to would be to deny what these guys have offered the world of rock as art. To say that the Dons have contributed a verse to rock history would be putting it lightly.

The album is dunked in a bath of motor oil and spits bits & pieces of machinery often. It is industrial with a small "i", never letting us forget where Che, Morris, Williams and Banfield are from, the mercantile and warehouse habitat of iron, rubber, steel and concrete it so affectionately creates. What Burns Never Returns is truly like finding oneself lost in a huge and abandoned but active factory that you might, if you're lucky and very patient, find your way out of. You can smell the rust and broken parts of the title track arriving with Che's continuous snare ruffle and the confused mingling of strings finding its way, warming-up the axles, wedges and pulleys of this perpetual motion machine. Damon Che kicks the living sh*t out of this baby but the band counters with deliberately contrasted lines creating the trade-off between force & distance, the friction these four utilize so well. Lightly slapped guitars and anchor-heavy bass parts for 'In the Absence of Strong Evidence to the Contrary,One May Step Out of the Way of a Charging Bull' with havoc one minute and wonky rhythms the next, heavily flirting with ~ if not tongue-kissing ~ dissonance. Fuzz thrash chords blow open 'Delivering the Groceries at 138 Beats per Minute' pumping with internal combustion, compressed air, elastic energy, and electrical discharge. Man meets man-made in 'Slice Where You Live Like Pie', a protest piece perhaps and a point where some listeners will simply throw their hands up and hit the skip button like a junkie on his next fix. And I wouldn't blame them a bit.

'Room Temperature Suite' before brooding 'The World in Perforated Lines' take the hands off the throttle a bit, the latter trailing off into vacuum tube oblivion giving way to frustrating 'From the Desk of Elsewhere Go' showing Che's remarkable knack for leadership and group dynamics. Those late, late shows at the ratty club downtown? When the last band was winding down a decent but frankly tortured set that threatened to cripple anyone who was paying attention while trying to avoid the sizable puddle of beer & burrito vomit in the middle of the floor? Apt imagery for these two cuts, but things are saved by almost melodic 'June is Finally Here'.

A near 5 stars if not for the small amount of less than inspired work, but in the end the boys gave us something that showed, simply by doing it, that true progressive rock was far from depleted, demonstrating how both the complex and the primal could come together to orbit and affect the other in ways not previously conceived.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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