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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

November 29, 2004
DVD Rating: 8/10

Spontaneity versus exactness - these are defining features that one generally encounters when hearing live recordings versus hearing studio recordings. Often, one of these aspects is sacrificed for the other; live interpretations lead to renewed stage energy but take away the specifics of prerecorded songs. Somehow, with their new DVD, World Drifts In, Calexico brings their studio recordings to a new level of energy, yet maintains a familiar accuracy to the details of each song.

Calexico do not perform like your typical two-piece outfit (generally the band is known simply as the two songwriters, Joey Burns and John Convertino). Since The Black Light (their second release on Quarterstick Records), the duo has utilized a cast of musicians to complement the elegant chemistry of Burns's guitar and voice and Convertino's delicate but technically pronounced drum work. During the nearly 90-minute live portion of the DVD, Burns and Convertino are obviously in control of the orchestral ship that features the grand instrumentation of trumpet, vibraphone, accordion, upright bass, pedal steel guitar, violin, trombone, vihuela, guitarron and acoustic guitar. Between all these musicians (16 altogether) there are few moments - if any - that the music becomes marred in cluttered-note conditions. And for anyone who has played music, this is a respectable feat.

World Drifts In is, first and foremost, the coverage of a performance in November of 2002 at London's Barbican Theater during the Beyond Nashville festival. Calexico was coming off of two consecutive years at the festival for which it was given the honor of Time Out's Gig of the Year award. The performance also reflects the first revealing of material that was to be released on the band's 2003 critically acclaimed release, Feast of Wire. Much of the bonus DVD material is also dedicated to this album and behind-the-scenes experiences from tours of that time.

The performance shines most of all by the sparkling diversity of the set list. Familiarity for old favorites - such as the opener, "Wash" from Spoke - flickers between the feelings of excitement for fresh, invigorating tunes-such as the interminably catchy "Not Even Stevie Nicks…" from Feast of Wire. Covers are speckled throughout the show as well, with many of them coming in the course of guest appearances. Françoiz Breut croons silk textured French words in "Ballad of Cable Hogue" and "Si Tu Disais" (a Breut cover which is featured on the Convict Pool EP). Breut's two-song showing opens up to the night's main guest appearance, that of the 8-piece Mariachi Luz de Luna.

Mingled along with the mariachi group, Calexico seems fulfilled in their song creations and musical attitudes. A cover of the Minutemen's "Corona" brings the first set to a close in great excitement and leaves the crowd anticipating a lengthy 4-song encore performance. Other highlights include Lulu Olivares's vocal solo, dancing and instrument solos around the horn.

The DVD also includes extra features such as interviews, tour footage, two documentaries, music videos and the cartoon "El Kabong Rides Again." Altogether World Drifts In lasts over 150 minutes and gives the viewer an extensive glimpse into the absorbing life of a community of musicians that see the Southwest as their natural habitat and music as their second language.

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SEE ALSO > www.quarterstickrecords.com
SEE ALSO > www.casadecalexico.com

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Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other articles by Josh Zanger.

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