Don Caballero


Written by: PP on 27/08/2008 13:31:20

All instrumental act Don Caballero continues on their seventh album "Punkgasm" largely where they left off with "World Class Listening Problem" two years ago; rich and gratifying guitar arrangements meeting with unconventional and particularly noteworthy drumming and bass lines drawing from jazz. But where "World Class..." had a distinctly metallic sound to the guitars, "Punkgasm" comes across much softer, leaning more on an alternative rock type of sound than anything else. In my opinion, this approach works much better for Don Caballero.

Don't worry though, all the reasons why Don Caballero is considered one of the leaders and innovators in the instrumental genre are still all there. Take "Bulk Eye", for instance, an astonishing composition where off-tune notes perplex with those in tune to create an unmatched harmony. You know the feeling when both guitars seem to go into opposite directions and yet it somehow makes perfect sense? Welcome to "Punkgasm", where that feeling occurs throughout.

I remember complaining in my previous review about the lack of vocals and how that makes the overall sound somewhat flat. Well, at least on "Celestial Dusty Groove", the band seems to have listened, and delicate, Thom Yorke-type high pitch croons accompany the unusually fast song for Don Caballero (at least their later material). And like I predicted, the vocal pattern adds so much more richness to their sound, easily making this my favorite Don Caballero track to date. Similarly, "Why Is The Couch Always Wet?" gains much from the soft vocals, and here the lush soundscape and overall vibe draws close parallels to material by Portugal. The Man, an entirely unexpected trait on a Don Caballero album, if I may add.

On "Challenge Jets", the band ventures yet into another territory with a guitar/bass combination leaning towards the experimentalists from The Fall Of Troy, an interesting addition to the vast Don Caballero sound catalogue. It's sometimes hard to comprehend how much instrumental variation and unique-sounding compositions the band has managed to pack on a single album, as the material literally ranges from the groove-driven to fusionist jazz and to the futuristic instrumentals paying homage to Pelican. Perhaps this is why Don Caballero are so widely acclaimed, as the long-term listening value on all of their records is immense, and "Punkgasm" is no exception. On each listen you'll find something new that sporadically pops up in a song, or a spastic layer that reveals itself all of a sudden.

So it seems to me that "Punkgasm" is one of Don Caballero's most accomplished albums to date. I think the biggest reason for this is the newly acquired alternative rock dimension to the band: the album sounds incredibly modern, yet simultaneously tight, extremely relevant and, last but not least, it is easily accessible to even those not usually aligned to the genre. Well done, I say, for producing one of the first instrumental albums I've become extremely good friends with.


Download: Celestial Dusty Groove, Bulk Eye, Why Is The Couch Always Wet?
For the fans of: Pelican, Battles, Dysrhythmia, Portugal. The Man
Listen: Myspace

Release date 25.08.2008

Related Items | How we score?
comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXI