What Burns Never Returns
Touch And Go
By: Eric G.
Typically, instrumental rock music is something you want to be careful to avoid, especially when it’s a showcase for guitar virtuosity, but Don Caballero will make you eat that train of thought. A quartet from Pittsburgh, Don Caballero has been releasing records for Chicago’s Touch And Go label since 1993. The band’s music focuses on the jaw-dropping interplay between guitarists Ian Williams and Mike Banfield in a structural setting akin to King Crimson, Rush, and even Fugazi. Don Caballero drives beyond a cerebral guitar crunch with its exciting use of rhythmic precision and intuition thanks in part to drummer Damon Che’s ability to execute several time changes in a matter of moments.
What Burns Never Returns is the band’s third album and possesses an utter disdain for traditional song structure. Don Caballero takes the term “math rock” to new levels with its polyrhythmic assault interspersed with moments of singular grace and delicacy. To have four guys this talented in the same band is almost disturbing. There are no solos or ego-stroking wank off sessions either. The band does hit simple grooves, occasionally, but this is not jam rock. Every note is carefully calculated. Take, for example, a song like “Slice Where You Live Like Pie” with its off the map chromatic scales and herky, jerky rhythms- there is no room for unplanned self-expression. Sometimes the aural cacophony sounds jumbled, especially when Che’s drumming eats up the space on the tape, but these moments are made up for several times over, usually within the same song.
Seeing Don Caballero live just drives home the prowess these guys possess over their respective instruments. Drummer Damon Che’s relentless acrobatic pummeling is awe-inspiring to watch not to mention his bandmates’ daring deconstruction of the cliched, macho use of the guitar. The band maintains its razor sharp precision without so much as a glance at one another. The set consisted mostly of stuff off the new record and left everyone in the room totally speechless.