During the recording of Calexico's Spoke in 1996, French filmmaker Marianne Dissard (director of Giant Sand documentary Drunken Bees) introduced Joey Burns and John Convertino to two French musicians, Na+»m Amor and Thomas Belhom. In addition to the two duos, T+¬te features German musician Martin Wenk, who played in Calexico's European touring ensemble, and Marianne Dissard on vocals. Spaghetti Western-inflected, Tucson-based outfit Calexico have already proved themselves fearless explorers of the new Western frontier. On TOte a TOte, the group's mainstays, Joey Burns and Joey Convertino, give their ingenuity and stylistic curiosity fresh impetus by teaming up with two French friends recently relocated to Tucson, Nanm Amor and Thomas Belhom. The match is immediately enticing--the Gallic flavor of the accordion instrumental "La Valse des 24 Heures" an edifying contrast to the lonesome dustbowl yearning of "The Wrestler's Masque" and "Le Savon Se Dissout dans la Rigole." As newcomers to the dusty desert life that inspires so much of Convertino and Burns's music, Amor and Belhorn bring an added sense of awe and moody grandeur to songs like "Gilbert" and the haunting, classically inspired "Orange Trees in the Yard." A collection of allusive but bewitching pieces, TOte a TOte doesn't scream out for attention, but rest assured its measured beauty and subtle shadings offer up increasing riches with each listen. --Gavin Martin.