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Djam Karet (USA) - 1991 - "Burning the Hard City"
(70 min, "Cuneiform")


*****

1. At the Mountains Madness       9:17
2. Province 19: The Visage of War 8:13
3. Feast of Ashes                10:46
4. Grooming the Psychosis        11:57
5. Topanga Safari                 5:57
6. Ten Days to the Sand          11:07
7. Burning the Hard City         12:07

Gayle Ellett - guitars, keyboards, percussion
Mike Henderson - guitars, keyboards
Chuck Oken jr. - drums
Henry J.Osborne - bass

All music by Djam Karet
Produced by Djam Karet & Rob Dechaine
Recorded at "Underground Railroad" studios
07/90 - 04/91 by R.Dechaine & C.Oken

Prologue. Djam Karet is one of the most innovative American bands of all time. They play all instrumental Classic Art Rock, often with hard-edged structures, and always - with prominent rolesof various guitars. In spite of lots of as if improvisational guitar solos, there is no elements of Jazz Fusion in the music of Djam Karet at all, and so please do not believe those descriptions on the band's style in which you find the word "Jazz" in general, like this, as an example: "Jazz, somehow or other, is involved in their music".

The Album. I've listened to three albums by Djam Karet (see also the "Reflection From the Firepool" and "The Devouring" reviews), and each of them sounds quite differently from both others, though,on the whole, stylistically Djam Karet remains the same inimitable Djam Karet always: their music is distinctively original, and there is no place for comparisons between them and any other existent band or, as Russians speak, Djam Karet remains Djam Karet even in Africa. Also, unlike many other really Creative bands, I still don't see any Djam Karet Wannabees - yeah, it would be by far not so easy to reproduce extremely complex structures that use in their music heroes of these lines. And I think, we will never hear any Djam Karet Wannabee-bands. That's why I especially love (particularly / exactly) the RIO style and all the variety of its manifestations. You may say, I can't call "RIO" the music Djam Karet compose and play. OK, let me, a naive reviewer, go the most easy way here, - sorry, I can't precisely describe their music with some concrete term, but after all, I know, although they are living in California, their "headquarter" is calling "Cuneiform". So, I hope you can allow me to consider their style as "a son of the second cousin of RIO", OK?

The title of the "Burning the Hard City" album is quite corresponding to the music that sounds on it - an overall musical atmosphere on the album is really intensive, to put it mildly. Most of pieces on this album - to begin with both opening tracks At the Mountains Madness and Province 19, through Grooming the Psychosis and Topanga Safari (they live in Topanga, btw), and to conclude with the last titletrack - all these (really) Giants sound like an unrealizable dream for the wide-variety (for the majority of !) existent Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands. Maniacal (in a good meaning of this word), full of a hypnotic energy, heavy guitar riffs dominate all over these compositions. There are diverse spacey, highly psychedelic on the whole, elements are also involved in "building" of the Djam Karet's structures. Not unlike the "rockish" parts, spacey* schemes are also bring within themselves such a hypnotic aura, but, IMO, a listener must have a decent "progressive" experience to find it here so as to be in resonance with it. Back to spacey* schemes, it is necessary to say that such words have a special meaning within the framework of Djam Karet's creation, and they can't be interpreted as some hint to some comparisons with any of existent *truly* spacey bands,starting with pioneers of the style Tangerine Dream and concluding with its most recent heroes Escapade (read a review on their last album HERE). Spacey parts in the music of Djam Karet have nothing to do even with Ozric Tentacles (in that case read one of the Chief Keys Reviews HERE).

Apart from both opening tracks, in which the domination of heavy guitar themes is almost absolute, all the other aforesaid compositions represent already mixed structural schemes with the equal (approximately)impact on the overall sounding. Guitars however remain a prominent instruments always, but all their solos and soundscapes within the spacey parts are totally "fluid", whereas "rockish" parts contains mostly typical (yet extremely innovative in Djam Karet), stylistically analogous, quite aggressive solos. Keyboards play mainly secondary, I'd even say minor roles, their impact on the overall sound is more or less perceptible only within the spacey parts. Feast of Ashes and Ten Days to the Sand, unlike all the other compositions, basically have spacey structural schemes, and although there are also quite enough of "rockish" episodes on tracks 3 & 6, too, the latter play only additional roles here. But, anyway, thanks to an excellent producing, all the three (quite different within the framework of the album) "categories" of compositions that sound on "The Burning the Hard City" album, makes it a very monolithic work yet. Well, it's really time to sum up...

Summary. So, the reviewed album by Djam Karet contains all the necessary compositional, technical, "progressive" after all, "ingredients" to be a masterpiece of the genre. It is also impossible to forget that the music Djam Karet compose and play is exceptionally original on the whole, with lots of innovations... I can listen this work by Djam Karet two and even three times running, I know I'll be listening to it in the future with the same pleasure. So, I REALLY don't know why I can't rate "The Burning the Hard City" as a masterpice like "The Devouring", for example... But, I really can't... It's just (just?!) the excellent album.

VM. June 22, 2000


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