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Don Caballero - American Don CD (album) cover


Don Caballero


Post Rock/Math rock

4.02 | 116 ratings

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5 stars Don Caballero is considered a math rock band, and their sound can get quite dense and complex as it works off of mostly guitar patterns that drive the music while layers get added on top of that, which is usually what the pattern is for math rock bands. This album, "American Don", is a great entrance point for those that are either interested in the band itself or in the math-rock genre in general. In this album, you hear plenty of the King Crimson "Discipline" era influence, but you can also pick up Tortoise influences too. Another great attraction to this album is the way the bass is mixed way up front in a lot of the tracks, and even sounds "Rush-like" at times.

This album is so good, that it is considered a standard for other math rock bands and albums; a bar on which to judge other works. It also influenced many math rock bands to form, and it was a gateway for many listeners to become fans of the genre. In that way, it is an essential album. It is also one of the most accessible in the DC discography, thus the reason why I would suggest it to those interested in exploring the sound. As it is somewhat accessible, it is still definitely not commercial.

I did a track by track analysis of this and was ready to post it, but my screen went black and I lost the review, so I will try to summarize the highlights of the album. The album starts out with "Fire Back..." which is the perfect way to start. Immediately, you will hear the obvious influence of King Crimson in the almost industrial like sound of the guitar layering. This is an upbeat opener, and is over much too quickly. "The Peter Criss Jazz" comes next and is over 10 minutes long. Don't worry, there is a lot of variety to this track as several ideas are introduced and expanded on, sometimes the ideas change by a fade out/in and other times in a more sudden way. This never gets boring during it's run time and is always very interesting and fresh all the way through. "Haven't Lived Afro Pop" has more of the Tortoise influence throughout it. This one returns to an upbeat feel, and you start to hear a funky element here, that you will also hear in other later tracks. "You Drink a Lot of Coffee..." is a short, but dense and repetitive track, almost to the point of self-parody, but it is over before 2 minutes is up.

"Ones All Over the Place" is a very dynamic piece, but more concise than "Peter Criss". You can hear the way the bass is mixed to the front, and you again get that Tortoise influence somewhere in the middle of the track. This is another great track running at just over 9 minutes, and every second is great. The last four tracks run at about 5 minutes each, and each one is an excellent example of the use of layering in math rock, at one time even layering on the bass, another time there is a short drum solo followed by bass and percussion interplay, funkiness abounds in places, density in others, there are even jazz influences thrown in for good measure.

Sorry about the brevity of this review, but like I said, I had a much more detailed review of each track, but ended up losing it because I didn't save my work often (gasp!). Let this be a lesson to me! Anyway, I had to quickly summarize the best I could.

Overall, this is a great album and in my opinion, an essential masterpiece for prog lovers. It acts well as an introductory point for curious music exploration as it is fun, exciting and interesting all the way through. Each individual track has something to offer, and there is a lesser feeling of same-ness in this album, but enough "mathematics" present that you will understand the idea behind the sound, and then you can make the choice it you want to explore some more. I love this album and highly recommend it. I have no issue giving it a glowing 5 star rating.

TCat | 5/5 |


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