American Don review by Don Caballero

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  • Released: Oct 3, 2000
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (4 votes)
Don Caballero: American Don

Sound — 9
Don Caballero create very complex music, with time signatures, scales and everything holy to a normal musician thrown overboard. Or maybe they know all too well what they are throwing all over the place. Anyway, the first time the sounds of this record touch your ears, it may sound like a bunch of random notes. But the more you listen to it, the more recognisable it becomes. It's not really comparable to any kind of music I've heard so far. Most people like to refer to them as math-rock (a label which the band dislikes), but if I had to discribe it I would call it avantgarde jazz-rock. The guitar (Ian Williams) and bass (Eric Emm) are looped, recorded and played back through two Akai Headrush delay pedals each to create a waterfall of sound. The structures created this way are so complex that it's hard to believe they could actually pull it off on stage with only only one guitar and one bass. Especially Williams deserves special credit in this. The drums (Damon Che) are also all over the place, but at the same time tie everything together, often going into extreme timesignatures to do so and sometimes even soloing into a completely different rythm while guitar and bass keep in the background. The album is put to tape by Steve Albini. The drums are recorded in a jazz way, keeping very true to the sound of Che's kit. Guitar and bass are deeply layered, giving the album a really wide and spacey feel.

Lyrics — 8
There are no vocals on this album, they would probably just take the focus away from the beautiful sound patterns. It also keeps the concept of the album a bit more mysterious. You only have a couple of songtitles to read, which sometimes seem just as random as their respective songs. Some of the titles even seem to contain a skewed sense of humour, for example: "A lot of people tell me I have a fake british accent", or "Fire back about your new baby's sex".

Overall Impression — 9
I have yet to hear a 3-piece band that can create such complicated and intriguing songs like Don Caballero could around the time of this album. After the band had broken up in 2000 (just after recording American Don) drummer Damon Che swore never to work with guitarist Ian Williams again, putting to rest the hopes of a reunion of the old line-up. Che has recently reformed the band with himself being the only original member, but hasn't been able to reach the complexity or depth of this classic line-up. This CD is, from beginning to end, the highpoint of this band's career and is hard to be leveled by any band in the genre. Any band in this genre is probably inspired by Don Caballero anyway.

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