Don Caballero - _Singles Breaking Up (Vol. 1)_
(Touch & Go, 1999)
by: Brian Meloon (8 out of 10)
Don Caballero are a band I never seem to understand right away. Although I've reviewed their previous two releases (_Don Caballero II_ [CoC #11] and _What Burns Never Returns_ [CoC #32]), I haven't been happy with the reviews a short time after writing them. Something about the music just eluded me. However, this album gives me a chance to catch up with the band. As its title would suggest, _Singles..._ is a collection of previously released material (all of which was unavailable on CD) and one unreleased track, spanning the years 1992 to 1997. It chronicles the progression of their style from a more "alternative" hard rock band to the abstract style they've developed recently. Most of the material is from their early days, with nine of the thirteen songs from 1992 and 1993. Despite this, the album shows a surprising consistency in style, for while their sound has developed and matured, the cornerstones of their sound were laid down with the earliest recordings. "What are these cornerstones", you ask? They are polyrhythmic layering and unbelievably dense drumming, mixed with simple and repetitive guitar and bass lines, complemented by a complete lack of vocals. The interplay between the various instruments makes this a challenging listen, as there are often two or three different parts being played at the same time. Underneath all of this, there's the phenomenal drumming of Damon Che, who is essentially soloing: playing an assortment of fills and rolls, and implying changes in the time signature on a sporadic and rapid basis, only to settle back in with the rest of the band at a later point. Many of the songs have a "live" recording sound, adding an air of jazz-like spontaneity to the music. As this is a compilation, the quality of the recordings does vary a little bit, but the sound is generally pretty good. Overall, this is about what you'd expect it to be: a good starting place for finding out about the band, and an essential collectible for longtime fans.

(article published 14/3/1999)

7/8/1998 B Meloon 7 Don Caballero - What Burns Never Returns
6/9/1996 B Meloon 7 Don Caballero - Don Caballero 2
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