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Don Caballero - World Class Listening Problem CD (album) cover

WORLD CLASS LISTENING PROBLEM

Don Caballero

Post Rock/Math rock


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GoldenSpiral
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow, what an effort. I would say that this is (arguably) Don Caballero's best and most progressive work to date. They have taken their classic instrumental sound as heard on "Don Caballero 2" and refined on "American Don", combined them and took their music to a new level. The composition is tighter than it has ever been, and the instruments wail. Don Caballero proves once again that they are THE quintessential math rock band.

The first track alone cycles manically from clean guitar parts dangerously resembling harmony to chunky atonal riffs. The band's stunning two-guitar attack is unlike anything you have ever heard. The two play completely different notes in completely different rhythms, yet somehow the incredibly tight drums bring it all together. The song ends with a sort of psychadelic breakdown, reminiscent of Gong.

Overall, this record is heavier than many of its predecessors, which becomes evident with the complex guitar-riffery in "And And And, He Lowered the Twin Down". This does not, however sacrifice quality, but it might make them appeal a bit more to prog-metal fans than they would have previously. Also, the track names always give you something to giggle at, with such gems as "Mmmm, Acting, I Love me Some Good Acting", "I'm Goofballs for Bozo Jazz", and "Palm Trees in the Fecking Bahamas".

Throughout the album, Damon Che prooves that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the drumming world, no matter how much those kids rave about Danny Carey ;) In fact, every instrument featured on this album holds its own. Each player has their own truly unique style. You'll hear amazing guitar chops, but you won't hear and prog-metal speed solos. You'll hear composition so tight it'll make your head spin, but you won't hear any symphonic epics. Part of what makes listening to this record so satisfying is that when each song starts, you have no idea where it's going to go. They may start out with a simple drum beat or guitar harmony, but within seconds the song will fly off to a completely different place, but will flow so seamlessly that you won't know how you got there.

This would be the album to start with if you have never heard the band before, and if you are looking for a great example of math rock as a genre. Their sound is certainly not for everyone, but if you'd like to hear great musicianship in a very different form,and technical instrumental music that doesn't leave you cold. I give this 4 stars, because it's not for everyone, but it is a perfect album from a great band.

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Send comments to GoldenSpiral (BETA) | Report this review (#77358)
Posted Saturday, May 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Don't be fooled by the mild-mannered cover, small record company or underground reputation. Behind the subdued image lurks an American band of heroes who are fighting for the rock progressive. They are fighting hard for it - for you - leading a movement of urgently creative music, a front for sonic liberty.

Don Cab's 2006 release, a monument of heavy instrumental rock, knocks out beautiful, churning rhythms of electric meat with lust and hearts full of soul. The two angry but sensitive guitars of Eugene Doyle and Jeffery Ellsworth pair with the nitroglycerin rhythms of bassist Jason Jouver and the astounding Damon Che on drums. With explosive power tempered by rare musicianship, this is more mercurial energy than one room can hold and often 'World Class Listening Problem' reminds of Mahavishnu's 'Birds of Fire' or Zeppelin's first and the feeling of freedom those records evoked.

The group continues their tradition of maximal minimalism by developing music more gradually than most rock units, underpinned by a love for jagged chunks of heavy metal and intense drama. Here they reach out even further, moving the music into more sophisticated areas of metallic landscape and dense brown matter, all ten cuts moving seamlessly into each other and delighting the senses with every passing moment. It may be awhile before these artists get the respect they deserve but that's O.K.-- greatness is often overlooked for a long time before it gets its due and Don Caballero (the name comes from the SCTV television show) only seem to get better with each record they make. They are my band of 2006 and they do the U.S. progressive rock scene proud.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#106485)
Posted Monday, January 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really

I'm not sure that if I were a DC member, I would've taken the chance to call my latest album such a risqué name, because it might just be often taken at face value with their typically obtuse type of math-rock. Of course, I'm sure there is an inside joke to it, but it will probably be lost on most of us, which could well be their ultimate goal. Then again, the title is intriguing enough to raise a few eyebrow raisings and hope to arise interests enough to give them a second or third hearing. By now, Damian Ché is the only original member, but this does not really seem to affect the group's sound that much, compared to its debuts.

Ten weirdly-named, senseless tracks that have a gentler edge than the previous chaotic maelstrom that made their "fame", the twin-barrel guitar attack is still powered by the diesel-powered truck motor of Damian Ché, with rarely-heard bassist Jouver as the spare wheel of this four-man formation. I even detect some of the typical post-rock ambiances on Railroad Cancellation, even if they get the DC treatment. In other places you might catch some (usual) Crimson influences and some Red Hot Chilli Pepper or Rage Against The Machine-type of rhythms, but more complex.

Not their best album, for sure, but WCLP is a very worthy album (and certainly so much more than the previous two albums, IMHO) that could actually serve as an introduction, precisely because it is less chaotic and aggressive than its predecessors. But I was never really that much a fan, and most likely will never really be one, either.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#117292)
Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great album full of instrumental music that travels a lot of different territories and that should be a good addition to any collection of progressive rock music.

All the tracks share a common characteristic: the fantastic musicianship of all members of the band. But specially, the rhythmic section: both Damion Che and Jason Douver (drums and bass) carry the whole weight of the music with ther appropiately exact, perfectly-timed rhythms and fills that give the music a distinctive pulse in every one of the pieces. The guitar work is good but it's mostly textural, never really trying to steal the spotlight from the rest of the instruments. And that's another good thing about this album: we can hear almost total equilibrium, we hear a band the members from which never outshine each other but always work together towards reaching their goal, which is to create powerful math/metal statements that entertain but also evoke feelings and emotions.

The style of the tracks is varied, some almost sounding like post-rock while others with a much harder, metallic edge. We hear bits of bands like Tool, though this famous band has never created an instrumental piece as challenging and interesting as the ones contained in this album by this relatively unknown outfit. From metal to atmospheric, everything is precise, concise, yet aliev, breathing.

An excellent addition to any fan of progressive experimental metal and instrumental rock.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#161582)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I haven't listened to any previous incarnations of Don Caballero but I like this a lot. It is majorly guitar-led. There are multiple guitar parts and loops. Very much inspired by Larks' Tongues era King Crimson. You can hear the influence in the repetitive use of the major third harmonies and tritones. The majority of the songs feature odd time signatures, which any prog fan would love. One of my favorite aspects of the album is its compositional style. Each song features sections that compliment each other very well. To be honest I'd compare it to some of Egg's work. The guitarist makes use of a loop pedal, which can end up in some sloppy live performances. The bass guitar is not a prominent part. I would recommend the album to anyone interested in modern progressive rock/avant-garde music. :)

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Send comments to Tengent (BETA) | Report this review (#266425)
Posted Monday, February 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A lot of long time DON CABALLERO fans find this one too melodic which is maybe why I like it so much. It's all-instrumental as usual and we get the dual guitars with bass and drums filling out the sound.

"Mmmmm Acting, I love Me Some Good Acting" opens with some great sounding guitar then it kicks in heavily with lots of bottom end.The guitar comes and goes throughout. "Sure We Had Knives Around" opens with drums as the guitar is picked over top. Some amazing drum work here (as per usual). Great sound after 2 minutes and I like the bass when it settles after 2 1/2 minutes. "And And And, He Lowered The Twin Down" opens with guitar as the drums pound their way in.This is great ! I like when the higher pitched guitar sounds come in after 2 minutes. "I Agree...No !...I Disagree" opens with some fantastic bass then the drums and guitar join in. Deep bass lines before 2 minutes as well. It turns experimental sounding a minute later.

"Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas" is a catchy beat driven tune. I like when the guitar rips it up. "World Class Listening Problem" again has some prominant guitar as the drums pound. It does settle before 2 1/2 minutes but kicks back in quickly. Nice drum outro. "Railroad Cancellation" builds and I like when it settles before 3 minutes. It's so uplifting. "Theme from Bricktop Clowns" is a short experimental piece. "Savage Composition" is drum dominated early. It's catchy then it turns heavier after 1 1/2 minutes. It settles back before 3 1/2 minutes. "I'm Goofballs For Bozzo Jazz" opens with Fripp-like intricate guitar as flurries of drums come and go.The bass is prominant a minute in. Cool track.

For me this a 4 star record and it would be a good place to start for someone wanting to hear their sound.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#397017)
Posted Wednesday, February 09, 2011 | Review Permalink

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