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TRACK LIST: 1. Arise from Ashes 5:30 2. Licking the Skull 1:50 3. The Hanging Tree 6:58 4. Swimming in the Big Sky 4:35 5. Special Cases 4:46 6. Stage Three 6:24 7. Disintegration 16:06 All tracks: by Djam Karet. LINE-UP: Gayle Ellett - - electric guitars, 8-string lute; - organ; wooden flute Mike Henderson - - electric, acoustic, & slide guitars, e-bow; - synthesizers; acoustic & electronic percussion Chuck Oken Jr. - - drums & percussion; keyboards; programming Henry J. Osborne - - 6-string bass; didgeridoo Produced & engineered by Djam Karet.
Prolusion. Subtitled as "New Dark Age - Volume 2", "Ascension" is a limited edition CD of 750 copies and is a companion release to "New Dark Age", as it further explores the themes and concepts of that Djam Karet album. The other Djam Karet-related reviews on Progressor are located >here, >here, >here, and >here. You can also read the interview with >Gayle Ellett from two months ago.
Synopsis. In the band's opinion, "Ascension" is their most accessible album, and it's hard not to agree with them on this matter. Indeed, the music on most of the tracks here is almost instantly accessible, but who would say that accessibility and progressiveness are incompatible things - especially regarding Djam Karet? Like many works by Pink Floyd, "Ascension" presents a very successful combination of progressiveness and accessibility that, in addition, is raised to the power of originality, which is generally typical for the creation of both of these bands despite some stylistic similarities between them. And please forget Ozric Tentacles when talking about Djam Karet. The creators of >'strange etudes' have nothing in common with the explorers of >Fifth Element. While "Ascension" isn't about Fifth Element and, on the whole, is inferior to most of the other Djam Karet albums, it features only alive music and no so-called sound designs etc like Ukab Maerd from "A Night for Baku". On the other hand, "Ascension" possesses most of the most essential features of the band's music (sorry for the inevitable tautology), including the tenseness of musical events, a positive hypnotism, and immediate attractiveness. Whereas the very active use of a wide variety of various percussion instruments (often without drums) on the album distinguishes it from the others, all of which, though, are in many ways different among themselves, too. Also, this is probably the most coherent of their albums - both musically and stylistically. All seven of the compositions here represent an accessible, yet, classic Symphonic Space-Rock, and if you consider the music on "Ascension" Ambient, then use this label each time you review in detail Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Meddle", at least.
Conclusion. Not every day I state my position like an RIO - reviewer-in-opposition. "Ascension" is by all means an excellent album and, moreover, is the best place to start for Prog novices and those who for some reason aren't acquainted with Djam Karet's creation up to now.
VM: January 16, 2004
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