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(71 min, Cuneiform)
TRACK LIST: "Recollection Harvest": 1. The March to the Sea of Tranquility 7:18 2. Dr Money 7:12 3. The Packing House 11:11 4. The Gypsy & The Hegemon 9:20 5. Recollection Harvest 10:06 "Indian Summer": 6. Indian Summer 4:10 7. Open Roads 4:57 8. The Great Plains of North Dakota 3:13 9. Dark Oranges 3:44 10. Twilight in Ice Canyon 5:16 11. Requiem 4:16 LINEUP: Gayle Ellett - keyboards; guitars, lute Mike Henderson - guitars; synthesizers Chuck Oken Jr. - drums, percussion; synthesizers Aaron Kenyon - electric bass Henry Osborne - electric bass (2 & 7)
Prolusion. One of those very important acts in the history of Prog Rock that have so much helped the genre to find its second wind back in mid-eighties, America's very own DJAM KARET is back with their 13th full-fledged studio release. You have certainly noted that the band is very fruitful in the new millennium, having made five new albums in the last five years: "New Dark Age" (2001), "Ascension" (2001), "A Night for Baku" (2003), "Still Getting the Ladies" (2004) and "Recollection Harvest" (2005). Besides, the hero of this review appears to be made up of two different albums: the eponymous full-length album and "Indian Summer", which is a kind of EP, both placed on the same sound medium. If the CD were released before the digital era, it would have certainly been issued as a double LP. So let's take it in such a way, especially since it meets the band's original design.
Analysis. Mentally taking a look at the group's back catalog, I am arriving at the thought that this material can hardly be subjected to direct comparison with their previous efforts. While the overall sound remains typically Djam Karet-ish, the songs displaying that the band is still in the state of the everlasting change of their style are everywhere on this set of recordings. What is immediately striking and what strongly distinguishes their new CD from the others (even from "New Dark Age", with which it has a certain common ground) are the guitar riffs, which are rare guests here, especially those pronounced. As ever, the band shines with technical filigree, but this time out a much stronger emphasis is made on composition and on the strengthening of bridges (here: harmonic and stylistic links) between different compositions as such, as a result of which the first conditional album, "Recollection Harvest", appears as their most cohesive and harmonious album to date. The material possesses some inner axis, which, consequently, touches each of the five semi-epics that form it, making them in many ways similar both in structure and style. All of them are notable for the constantly evolving, tirelessly weaving patterns of intricate, totally different, solos from each of the musicians, crossing the length and breadth of each other. Although the number of rapid solos is relatively small, and the basic tempos range from slow to moderately slow in most cases, the music is amazingly deep. Besides, this is that rare case when profoundness and attractiveness come hand in hand, initiating the seasoned listener into the stuff's substance already upon the first spin. As ever, the overall style defies accurate definition, and only one of its components is instantly determinable. It's Space Rock: with distinct symphonic tendencies, such as on Dr Money, or of a mixed quasi-improvisational character, such as on The March to the Sea of Tranquility and The Packing House. Apart from the features common for the entire album, the last two compositions: The Gypsy & The Hegemon and Recollection Harvest both contain angular RIO-like maneuvers, the title track being the only one featuring elements of Space Metal, in addition. Everywhere on the five, the music ranges from rather peaceful and atmospheric, with distant echoes of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", to dynamic and dense, with deeper Space Rock (and also Space Fusion and Psychedelic Rock) explorations where moderately dark colors become prevalent in the mood spectrum. What's most amazing and significant alike, the music always retains a definitive sense of magic and transcendence wherever the band would move while reaping the fruits of their recollection harvest. Surprisingly, the longest piece from "Indian Summer", Twilight in Ice Canyon, turned out to be in many ways close to the described five tracks, although no one would say it's fully devoid of the features typical for the further stuff. For its transitional character, it should have been placed in the sixth position, at least to the joy:-) of such adherents of symmetry and logicality in the album constructions as I. The compositions: Indian Summer, Open Roads and The Great Plains of North Dakota, following one another right below the CD's conventional equator, are also entities of the same compositional and stylistic concept, even though the second of them is more dynamic, due to the liberal use of congas (no drums/percussion on any of the other "Indian Summer" tracks), and the latter have some oriental flavorings in places. This is a unique electro-acoustic quasi-progressive Ambient where contrast and hypnotism are living in harmony with each other, much more compelling and just progressive than most of "Ascension", for example. This time around, Gayle Ellett handles a really large and diverse instrumental equipment, playing organ, Mellotron, synthesizers, 8-string lute, E-bow, Theremin, electric and acoustic guitars, the parts of the latter being actively involved in the arrangements practically everywhere on the CD, save the remaining two pieces, Dark Oranges and Requiem, which are electronic and symphonic space music respectively.
Conclusion. Overall, this is probably the most captivating and innovative Space Rock-related album since Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". By the way, it possesses all the virtues, thanks to which that album hit the nail on the head in all senses. Ultimately recommended. Top-20-2005
VM: December 8, 2005