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

WHAT BURNS NEVER RETURNS

Don Caballero

Post Rock/Math rock


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Trickster F.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the most unique complex albums in Progressive Music.

...as for today, let us discuss the exciting topic of excellent drummers in Progressive Rock. Who in your opinion is the most competent, unique and skilled percussionist in the genre? What do you say? Bill Bruford? Danny Carey? Mike Portnoy? You are wrong, young man, try again. Pierre Moerlen? Christian Vander? Good guess, but I can only suspect that you simply haven't heard Damon Che, the drummer of the gifted American instrumental math-rock groupDon Caballero, play.

What Burns Never Returns is the group's third full-length album and works as their representative release rather well. They still remain as a group of four members here(one of the guitarists will have left by the time of the next release)and that is crucial as the music created by the two guitars adds greatly to the ricj complexity of the sound. This site classifies Don Caballero as 'Post-Rock/Experimental' and I kind of agree with that. It is definitely experimental and innovative, and the Post- Rock influence is obvious, although the similarity with other Post Rock groups isn't as visible. The music is extremely complex and appealing, deconstructed in the tradition of Jazz Fusion. Sometimes Metal influences can be heard, somewhat reminding of Pelican and Red Sparrowes to the casual listener(both in the sound and the mood).

Don Caballero 3 opens the album and it is the logical, conceptual continuation from the predecessor which was named Don Caballero. After a short percussion intro other instruments join the drums to create a chaotic feel. It may seem random on the first listen, but later you will understand that is it perfectly thought out, constructed and player with admirable accuracy. The "chaos" stops and the group goes into the complex instrumentation it is famous and recognised for with drumming that is inspiring as drumming ever gets, dual guitars creating memorable 'melodies' and perfectly audible and interesting bass guitar playing. Notice how I put I said 'melodies' - these aren't really melodies in the traditional sense and the unusual rhythm and harmony dominates the sound. Needless to say that whoever enjoys the complex side of the Progressive genre will appreciate this recording greatly. Sometimes guitars start buzzing in the background while the bass guitar is the one doing the riffing and it makes the listen even more exciting. The tracks on the release are both similar to and different from each other. They are all instrumental and all match their respective names, which is something many instrumental Post Rock groups are known for. I often read that the whole music is based on Che's amazing drumming and I refuse to agree with this statement, as every instrument plays a great role here.

I haven't heard too many complain about Don Caballero's sound, although I know some people say that it is simply too complex to sit through. Since this is a Progressive Music website, I assume that it will not be a problem to our experienced, endurant listeners. At least it isn't for me. I am really not sure what to compare this album to for the general listener... I suppose if you are keen on King Crimson's albums from the 80's and beyond and also Rush, your ears and heart will find this very appealing. The group's sound is extremely unique, creative and innovative - I will even dare to say that this is as extraordinary as the music made decades and decades ago.

Highly recommended to those searching for a rich, complex sound!

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Send comments to Trickster F. (BETA) | Report this review (#76008)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Certainly not for everyone, but if you're into complex harmonies and harsh structures you should give it a check. The production is right but not great, however it's enough to appreciate the quality of Don Caballero's music. The guitar interplay is amazing and it perfectly justifies the term math rock added to their style by the specialists, althought it has been also qualified as Jazz, Experimental and Post-Rock. It's unvelievable how they make those crazy, histerical almost algebraical sounds (¿?), no, seriously i mean it, only with math formulas they can get to that level. ¿And what about Damon Che's palying? He blows away many of today's dummers. I recommend this to fans of Volta Do Mar, Gastr del Sol, Pele and especially King Crimson, the begginers of that stunning genre called math- rock, back in the eighties.

Best trax fo' me: Don Caballero 3, Room Temperature Suite and June is Finally Here.

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Send comments to Pascual (BETA) | Report this review (#104282)
Posted Saturday, December 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Following their incredible second album was going to be a rather difficult task for DC, and the least we can say is that at least they tried not to make too much a carbon copy of 2. While DC's music manages to remain edgy and nihilist, WBNR is less industrial (except for Desk Of Elsewhere Go) and dronal, which makes less impressive and exciting than its predecessor.

Again DC's sound is mostly centred on Damon Che's demonic drumming, while the duo of guitarists are less inspired this time around and the bassist is slightly more audible. So we are faced with a bunch (eight in all) tracks that do not grab you by the throat the way it had happened before. The real sense of urgency is not quite as crucial here, we are just not really living this album, and we're just being submitted to it, content to follow it a bit sluggishly as if we are completely brainwashed, but also saturated. The magic simply does not operate.

Definitely not as good/excellent as their previous album, WBNR nevertheless remains an interesting album if you enjoy this math-rock thing; one of its main assets is being roughly 10 minutes shorter than their masterpiece. Their second best with their latest WCLP, but a far cry from their crowning achievement.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#118501)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was a little taken back not too far into this album when I realized there's a lot of crazy stuff happening here. It took quite a few listens for me to get used to and fully digest what Don Caballero are doing here with their math-art-rock thing, but persistence is the key to truly enjoying this. At first it sounds like the band can't even play together, mostly because there's so many ideas being fired off in rapid succession. Upon further listening you'll discover that it's supposed to be that way. Strange, but the chaos is perfectly constructed. Everything is held together by the frantic drumming of Damon Che, and even then it sounds like he's just going off and doing his own thing. The guitars and bass serve in out of complex passages, hitting notes that sound very harsh on each other, but it all works out in the end. It's pretty amazing they pull all of this off so well. Fans of complex, chaotic rock music take note.

Standout songs: "Room Temperature Suite"

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Send comments to Arsillus (BETA) | Report this review (#125771)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I didn't notice the KING CRIMSON references as much on this release as on their amazing "Don Caballero 2" and this one seems more harsh and chaotic if that's possible. Having said all that this is a must have for Math-Rock fans.There is so much to digest here that many listens are a must to give an intelligent opinion of this album.

"Don Caballero 3" is the longest track on the record and the man on the drum kit is absolutely dominating the sound for the first two minutes. We get some guitar melodies woven through the soundscape that turn to a Post-Rock style after 4 minutes. There is a change 7 1/2 minutes in with some cool guitar. "In The Absence Of Strong Evidence To The Contrary, One May Step Out Of The Way Of The Charging Bull" is an uptempo song with some angular guitar melodies. Good song. "Delivering The Groceries At 138 Beats Per Minute" has some powerful riffs to open.The guitar sounds like it's talking after 2 minutes. The riffs stop 2 1/2 minutes in, enter some crazy drumming as the riffs come back even heavier than before, almost doom-like. The song accellerates to a climax, before Damon gives his drums a good beating.

"Slice Where You Live Like Pig" builds to a full sound 1 1/2 minutes in. This one has an industrial feel to it. Very metal sounding with screaming guitar after 4 minutes. "Room Temperature Suite" has a dark undercurrent to it. This section sounds great but it changes 2 1/2 minutes in to the end of the song. "The World In Perforated Lines" is a good song with riffs that aren't too heavy compared with the third song. "From The Desk Of Elsewhere Go" is quite experimental for 3 1/2 minutes but thankfully it becomes more melodic with some good bass late. "June Is Finally Here" is more accessible with some excellent drumming to begin with. Angular guitar after 3 minutes provides us with a great passage.

Songs 2, 3, 5 and 8 are my favourites.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#132874)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is the only album that I have by Don Caballero, and it's very different. This is Post-Rock or Math Rock that is dominated by the drums. I can't think of another band that is set up this way. The drumming is pretty intense, but in a good way. The other instruments come together in a harsh or dissonant fashion, so this is not an easy album to listen to. It is very interesting though. I do plan on obtaining DC's second allbum at some point or other, since it seems to be generally regarded as the band's best.

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#170106)
Posted Tuesday, May 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There's points on this where Don Caballero remind me of what would happen if Robert Fripp took control of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. Like the Magic Band, Don Caballero's music is based on the band members playing apparently unrelated rhythms which intersect and intertwine in a complex manner, but unlike the Magic Band they don't have this ragged, haphazard quality to them which makes it look as though the whole edifice might fall apart at any moment; instead, like King Crimson, the apparent anarchy and chaos is carefully and minutely orchestrated. It's a potent and unusual mixture which is absolutely not for everyone - it's not to my tastes, for that matter - but it seems to point to the very core of this elusive concept of "math rock", so if you are interested in that genre this might be a good place to start exploring it.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#633996)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Horizons
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars A ballsy album that captures the transition from one masterpiece to another, and hosts many of their strengths.

Don Caballero is the Math-Rock band. The classic trilogy of Don Caballero 2, What Burns Never Returns, and American Don is where you turn to if you want to indulge in everything that makes Math-Rock and experience the band that shaped the genre into what it is today. Here you find an album that marks departure of the monstrous, metallic demon of Don Caballero 2 and the genesis of the definitive sound with slick, speckled abrasiveness. I love this album because of the obvious experimentation heard and the serious nature of the music. The atmosphere here feels dark, tough, or even maniacal.

The guitars are the most drastic change here. At times they still retain their distorted, chunky sound from American Don 2, but now they invest some more creativeness and release a dangerously off-putting spring of sound that sounds like the strings are being chewed on. It's amazing honestly. Damon Che on drums is astounding as he will ever be. Bringing some sneer and corruption to jazz drumming. Pat Morris on bass gives an insight of the musical direction at any given time, either providing thundering bass that will echo through your soul or quick snippets of more thoughtful lines. The band overall sounds like it has this method of disconnection giving intricate, individual thoughts that all converge into a single voice.

Don Caballero 3: Disjointed guitars and drums try to mesh their sounds and place in subtle changes to slowly accomplish that until it becomes apparent after drum ques. Unique percussion add a face to the crazed guitars once again. The switch in mood from the dissonant collaboration to the more accessible Math-Rock creates great tension and keeps the lengthy piece from being a bore. Riddled with sonic jabs and disorder, Don Caballero flaunts their ambition for a new sound while still retaining comfort and precision.

In Absence of Strong Evidence..: A more typical Don Cab Math piece that could have fit anywhere on American Don. Guitars are technical and distinguishable, the bass has more personality popping out every so often for some nice licks here and there. The guitars create such strong melodies that they mimic a vocalist. To my fancy, the drums don't dominate in the mixing nor does Damon try to sound too prominent in his playing. The ending is unusual to find in this song. The band sounds like they have been crushed are being smeared on the floor.

Delivering the Groceries at 138 BPM: Just like the prior song, here is a track that blends perfectly into another part of the trinity. The rough guitar interplay with thick bass tones duplicate the sound found on Don Caballero 2. This song is heavy, dark, and substitutes technicality for pure metal edge. The drum bridge is brilliant ties this knot with a slight math exit.

Slice Where You Live Like Pie: Taking the brawniness from Don Caballero 2 and integrating the swift passages and cold compositions, here we have the transitional sound. Interlaced guitars create a fibrous and entangling shell that quickly shatters from the change from glossy tone to a fierce, yet wonderfully catchy, guitar line. Once again, Damon seems to be a bit restrained and actually having a sense of balance here. The climax is reached after gaining momentum with aid of a now passionate drummer and siren-like guitars.

Room Temperature Suite: This song's sections paint a picture of a sulking child that quietly discusses their conflicts on their own. Having mainly gloomy guitars on the surface, the drums surface and provide some power with relentless double-bass. Afterward, like a troubled child sent to their room, the band's sound begins to linger and fester. The 3 bridges link 3 individual small sections in the song. They have their own identity and aren't really a production of prior development of the band. I don't see this as a bad thing.

The World In Perforated Lines: Contrasting Room Temperature Suite, Don Caballero makes this short song begin with simple guitar lines, drum grooves, and walking bass to make progression and musical inclusion more simple and natural. The bass is fantastic throughout the entire song, having attitude and remaining complementary. The guitar duo of Ian and Mike gradually change their conversational playing: adding distortion, incorporating goofy bending, or becoming more talkative with their notes. I don't care too much for the distorted, slowed ending though it doesn't feel out of place or ill-preformed.

From the Desk of Elsewhere Go: Guitars feel suspended as they loom and scratch the sonic surface with their sporadic style. The bass emerges momentarily to provide warmth, and the drums are slick but sometimes mimics the guitars' off-putting rhythms. Overall, you will find a fusion of former themes on the album reappear with a more experimental vision. The atmosphere is eerie and leaves you wrapped in a ice-plagued blanket.

June Is Finally Here: Feeding on the energy built upon by From the Desk Of Elsewhere, June is Finally Here does a wonderfully job at sustaining the off-putting guitars, loose percussion, and the sparse bass until Don Caballero decides to transport us to a more warm, uplifting environment. One of my favorites from the band because of the success and accuracy found all within the title.

What Burns Never Returns seems to be the middle child here, having American Don and Don Caballero 2 command all the attention they well-deserve. Though, to me, this album serves as a link to two essential masterpieces of the genre and progressive music in general - this role does not mean that it cannot deliver as much creative power and high quality. I prefer this release more than Don Caballero 2 mainly because i adore the bizarre aura i get from the album. This album is a real trip for me to listen to and i feel i discover more strange fragments constantly.

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Send comments to Horizons (BETA) | Report this review (#796300)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#1119593)
Posted Friday, January 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

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