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(64:40, 'Djam Karet')
TRACK LIST: 1. Hungry Ghost 8:32 2. The Red Threated Sexy Beast 12:41 3. Consider Figure Three 9:43 4. The Packing House 12:55 5. Dedicated to K.C. 9:41 6. The Gypsy and the Hegemon 10:54 LINEUP: Gayle Ellett – Mellotron, organ, synthesizers Mike Henderson – el. guitar; e-bow; effects Chuck Oken Jr. – drums; altered voices Aaron Kenyon – el. 5-string bass Mike Murray – el. guitar; e-bow
Prolusion. If my memory doesn’t let me down, “The Heavy Soul Sessions” is the 15th release by DJAM KARET, from the States. However, I think it shouldn’t be regarded as a full-fledged new album, since five of its six tracks are the rearranged and newly, live-in-studio, played versions of those from some of the band’s previous outings, while the remaining one is a cover of Richard Pinhas’s 1982 piece Dedicated to KC.
Analysis. As stated in its booklet, the recording does not contain any overdubs or computer manipulations, and it has indeed a warm, lively sound throughout. In addition, it is fairly rich in vintage colorations, in particular because Gayle Ellett plays mostly analog keyboards, Mellotron and organ included. Speaking of the compositions in hand, I won’t compare them to their original versions, as I don’t remember those already (my brain is not a computer to keep in memory, as files, all of the songs I’ve ever heard). Now I’d like to mention that while the music features some occasionally obvious influences, the band in all cases weaves them into excitingly original sonic canvases, which is generally typical of its work, though. Stylistically, the tracks can – or rather should – be divided into two equal parts. Three of those, The Red Threated Sexy Beast, Hungry Ghost and Dedicated to KC, bring together avant-tinged, dark and heavy Art-Rock with both Space Fusion and symphonic Space Rock. Each of them goes through several stages of development, progressing and regressing (think mainly the density of the sound regarding the latter expression), with more than merely a satisfying diversity of instrumental combinations and dynamic contrasts. In all cases, mid-’70s King Crimson comes to mind early, due to the massive heavy riffs and a somewhat eccentric rhythmic basis. The other two styles-related musical fabrics are well amalgamated with those, highlighted by fusionesque guitar bursts in Gong’s manner and bright synthesizer soloing in Eloy’s one respectively, the organ and Mellotron intensifying a sense of vintage symphonic drama. Lasting for 30+ minutes, all three of the compositions are excellent. On the other tracks the band works almost exclusively with Space Rock and related stylings. Why almost? Consider Figure Three does never rock, suggesting (quality) space music – a sort of somewhat minimalistic take on Shine On You Crazy Diamond from Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” at its most reflective, albeit the concluding part of Eloy’s “Ocean” comes to mind as well, due to the presence of narration in particular. The Packing House is for the most part slow-paced and also fairly atmospheric in appearance, only occasionally revealing bursts of energy (to put it briefly). Nonetheless, this is still a full-fledged as well as beautiful space rock piece, setting up tasty, memorable themes and returning to those from time to time. The Gypsy and the Hegemon is full of high-quality space rock arrangements and is the best one from this category of tracks. In this case, the band’s ability to fascinate with melody is coupled with its will to build complex, truly progressive architectures. The musicians almost as frequently crack out on here with an intense sound as they do on the three compositions described first, in the beginning prompting the listener to be maximally attentive while watching their moves from one section to another.
Conclusion. This latest release by Djam Karet can be regarded as a space rock masterwork, albeit as a minor rather than a complete one, since none of the pieces presented are new. Finally, let me please give you a kind of advice in a facetious manner. Don’t listen to any shit so as not to be ear-cracked; listen to good music, like this one, and it will make your ears clap together, applauding it :-).
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: May 5, 2011
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