Spoke appears to be more of a sketch pad for musical inspirations rather than a complete project which in turn makes it come across as unassuming and inviting.  Calexico is mainly John Convertino and Joey Burns who have recently produced  and/or played with many distinguished artists such as OP8, Giant Sand, Vic Chesnutt, Richard Buckner, Friends of Dean Martinez, and Barbara Manning , all of with whom they manage  to incorporate their unique desert sound while utilizing diverse instrumentation.   Most songs are somewhat folky, based around acoustic guitar, but there are also a couple of ethnic sounding numbers (in the Camper Van Beethoven vein), and a surf tune as well as some  "uncatagorizable" sounds.  Burns and Convertino usually work out of Wavelab Studios in Tuscon, but this assemblage was, given the nature of the project, appropriately recorded in their homes on 8-tracks which seems to have given them the freedom to record creatively many of the sounds appearing uniquely experimental and spontaneous, including the instrumentation which includes vibes, marimba, accordion, cello, mandolin, and violin.  As a whole, the record comes across as a fun, homemade project which, incidentally, contrasts the alluring industrial, working class photos and artwork printed by One Ton Press.  But somehow, in this case, it works. (Quarterstick Records)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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