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(64 min, Poseidon & Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kamihitoe 6:40 2. New Bound 5:43 3. The Cave 7:40 4. Ogiruyas 3:56 5. Alha-ha 4:33 6. 94K2 8:30 7. Dying Sleeper 5:41 8. Ajinen 6:04 9. Dictator 6:35 10. Ahonoko 9:14 LINEUP: Masaharu Nakakita - bass Akihiro Enomoto - drums Shinji Kitamura - saxophone Takehiko Fukuda - keyboards Akira Ishikawa - guitars Dai Akahani - trumpet
Prolusion. "Kamihitoe" is the second studio CD by the young Japanese group DJAMRA, following "Transplantation" (2003), though they also have several semi-official releases on EP (all being live recordings), one of which, "14 Faces-I", has been reviewed on ProgressoR as well. There is a link to their website below the review, but you will be hard put to pick up any intelligible information from there.
Analysis. Formerly a four-piece consisting of bass, drums, saxophone and trumpet, Djamra appear as a sextet on this their new album, having engaged a guitarist and a keyboard player - to the great benefit of the further sophistication of their music, as well as the additional saturation of their sound. There are many factors that cause a creative success. An unconventional compositional thinking, which, I believe, is inseparable from true inspiration, is one of the most significant among them, and this is where "Kamihitoe" proves instantly striking. Another key feature would be effective application of different types of contrast, beginning with that between composition and improvisation - this band just gets at the root of all things that concern both these substances. Having noted that there are not too many contemporary bands that could play as intricately and masterfully alike as these youngsters do, I feel free to go on to the album's content. Overall, the ten instrumentals are all sustained within a unified stylistic concept, which is a confluence of Jazz-Fusion and RIO with elements of Metal-In-Opposition, atmospheric Space Fusion and free Jazz, the matter's most distinguished feature being a nonlinear, multidimensional harmonic construction. (In other words, this music blends with some difficulty with the neither common form of RIO or Jazz-Fusion, but I fear I will just blur the review if I try to unravel this topic.) The first four pieces, the title track, New Bound, The Cave and Ogiruyas, fully suit the said definition, while 94K2, Dying Sleeper and Ahonoko each contain a few humoresque episodes as well whose essence strongly resembles circus music. There are no significant digressions from the primary style on Ajinen and Dictator either, save the mere fact that both are free of pronounced heaviness. Okay, the first and the last third of Alha-ha refer to atmospheric Space Fusion, but the middle section is essentially a specialty of Djamra's house - an intense RIO-like jam, which rocks despite being abundant in improvisations. The majority of compositions consist of multi-layered, ever-morphing (at times positively crazy and wild), completely unpredictable arrangements where the ceaselessly soloing bass, piano, organ, saxophone, guitar and drums intermix with each other like different streams in a maelstrom. With the exception of a trumpet player who plays only on a couple of tracks, all the musicians are at peak activity throughout the album. The emotional palette reveals plenty of different moods, though gloomy and affirmative ones seem to be predominant - perhaps just because these are the most contrasting. All in all, this music is irresistible and is inimitably unique. Happy Family, Etron Fou Leloublan, Soft Machine, Thinking Plague and Mongol can serve only as a kind of joint point of comparison, i.e. as long as they are viewed all together, simultaneously.
Conclusion. Djamra's "Kamilhitoe" is a powerful musical rocket, an absolute masterpiece. Very strongly recommended to everybody fully versed in the subject of RIO with a strong jazz component. Otherwise be very patient in the event you get this album. It will take many plays until the rewards will come.
VM: September 16, 2006
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