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(56:55, 'Djam Karet')
TRACK LIST: 1. Never Be the Same 3:13 2. Rage 4:32 3. Lasso 5:12 4. Stone Wall 4:14 5. Emergence 4:34 6. Starting Over 4:39 7. Can’t Wait Anymore 4:12 8. Equinox 5:28 9. Goddess 4:27 10. Continuum 6:23 11. Read My Mind 4:57 12. Summertime 4:33 LINEUP: Mike Henderson – guitars, bass; synthesizer; percussion Jack Housen – vocals; bouzouki, mandolin Caroline Dourney – vocals Dion Sorell – electric cello Chuck Oken Jr. – drums
Prolusion. Mike HENDERSON has been a member of Djam Karet over all the years this US band has been active. “The Arrow Project” is his latest solo release.
Analysis. Instrumentally, Mike’s compositions rely predominantly on both melodic synthesizer washes and passages of acoustic string instruments (mandolin and bouzouki in particular) with occasional swirling electric guitar solos, supported either by sequenced pulsating patterns or by acoustic drums and/or other percussion. In all, only a half of the album’s twelve tracks have a full-band sound – a quasi-full-band one in most cases, since congas, etc, are used much more frequently than is a complete drum kit. Three fourths, i.e. nine of the compositions contain vocals, and all of those, besides being slow-paced, are almost totally song-based, delivered primarily in a balladic manner. There is really a lot in common between the songs, so instead of listing them by titles, I’ll only note that those with a male on vocals (which are six in number) remind me somewhat of mid-to-late ‘90s Porcupine Tree at its most reflective, while the ones featuring a female as singer at times rhythmically evoke Pigs on the Wings from Pink Floyd’s “Animals”. Yes, we’re on a floating symphonic space rock journey, or something of the sort. Overall, the music is pretty nice, and while it comes, say, without psychedelicatessens, it is naturally flowing, free of any electronic bullshit, such as noises, effects, sampled voices and so on. The vocals are all fairly pleasing also, but the matter itself will weigh not too much, if anything, if we throw it onto the scale of progressiveness of music. Besides, it rather often turns out that theme two is just a repeat of theme one with some minor variations applied (in arrangement), and so on, which is certainly not enough to make a composition progress or at least bring it to the point where it would really blossom out with passion and intensity. Comprehend? Now, it’s time to view the instrumentals. Equinox is just what the first sentence of this paragraph says about (only think percussion as a rhythmic basis – in all cases), while Emergence and Continuum exceed the bounds of that description, and are standout tracks, the highlights of the album. Both of them are closer to Space Fusion in style, remotely reminiscent of Shakti at its most atmospheric, since each additionally has a strong sense of Indian music, provided by cello.
Conclusion. Overall, this is a pretty likeable recording, by no means devoid of charm and beauty. The problem is that it represents background music, which is too predictable for me; I miss the building-up of a composition leading to a climax and so on. All in all, I only can recommend the CD to those prog lovers who are used to listening to music while driving their cars.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: May 7, 2011
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