ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Djam Karet - 2005 - "Recollection Harvest"

(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


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

Djam Karet - 2005 - "Recollection Harvest"


Analysis. The US act DJAM KARET was founded in the mid eighties by a group of musicians with a desire to play improvised, instrumental progressive rock, and their inclusion of droning eastern-inspired sounds and ambient passages gave them an artistic breakthrough towards the tail end of the ‘80s, including favorable reviews in the prestigious Rolling Stones magazine. In the 90's they were one of a select few progressive rock acts that was covered (positively) by mainstream-oriented publications and they've also scored music for television programs and commercials. "Recollection Harvest" was issued in 2005, and is so far the latest production by this fine act. This outing is basically a collection of two different ventures, with slightly different stylistic expressions. The opening Recollection Harvest part consists of 5 long compositions totaling somewhat over 40 minutes in length. Complex, multilayered affairs is the name of the game here, with keyboards pretty dominant throughout, creating a somber and dark yet warm atmosphere. Distinct drums and bass, more often than not both complex and quirky, are set up as the rhythmic foundation, enhancing the dark timbres of the compositions. On top of this layered, toned down guitars are added; undistorted clean wandering layers, toned down elongated riffs and acoustic guitar themes forming elaborate and embellished sonic structures. Not all at once, at least not very often, but a combination of one or more of these expressions. Another guitar feature more prominent in these proceedings are toned down, atmospheric soloing, with extensive use of elongated notes, setting up lighter textures and providing some pretty eerie sounding moods at times. With space-tinged fluctuations and sounds from synths as occasional toppings, complicated tunes residing in a musical landscape somewhere in between Pink Floyd and Ozric Tentacles are created. Much more elaborate and challenging than either of these acts, but with a general sound and atmosphere that can remind the listener of one or the other, eastern-tinged themes and vintage space-sounding segments in a jolly mix, with excursions into folk-tinged as well as jazzy territories for added variation. The 6 tracks that make up Indian Summer all are short ventures, lasting less than 30 minutes in total. A feature of these compositions is that they appear, at least for me, to give brief nods towards the works of other artists. Indian Summer opens with an echoing simplistic and highly electronic sounding synth theme that instantly made me think of Kraftwerk as they sounded on Trans-Europe Express. Open Roads contain a guitar theme with a distinct Rush-sounding atmosphere; enhanced as the song evolves with rhythms pretty similar to the Canadian trio's composition Mystic Rhythms (from “Power Windows”), while the last track Requiem wouldn't have been out of place on a Hawkwind album like "Chronicles of the Black Sword" or "Xenon Codex". However, none of these are even close to being derivative efforts. Instead, familiar sounding elements are a feature in tracks rather adventurous in expression, short and likable affairs that build up a steadily more complex sonic tapestry, and one a few notches more on the psychedelic and spacey side than on the first 5 tracks on this disc. Indeed, despite the brief length of the final 6 pieces on this album I have come to like these somewhat more than the opening five: probably because these shorter affairs also are slightly more varied in mood and sound, without ever being found lacking in the complexity department. The final track, Requiem, is the exception though, as the name of the song implies this is a more solemn affair in all departments, and highlights the ambient parts of this band's repertoire much more than their technically and compositionally challenging ventures.

Conclusion. Fans of instrumental, progressive rock of the more challenging variety can hardly go wrong if purchasing a production by Djam Karet, in particular if space-tinged atmospheres are seen as a positive aspect in music. This production is no exception, among the better works in their back catalog offering refined music for the refined mind: Highly recommended, in case anyone wondered.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 15, 2009
The Rating Room

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