Djam Karet – Sonic Celluloid (2017) review

DJAM KARET

Sonic Celluloid (2017 – HC Productions – USA)

http://www.djamkaret.com/

It is quite an achievement to begin with, for a band to create and release 18 albums (they actually have over 30 releases counting EP’s and various output), but this is exactly what this all instrumental American progressive rock (plus) band has done, with the latest recording being ‘Sonic Celluloid’. The history is vast but one fact is astounding in that this includes all four founding members (Chuck Oken Jr : drums, keyboard sequencing, soundscapes – Gayle Ellett : electric & acoustic guitars, bouzouki, moog, mellotron, Hammond, and Rhodes – Henry Osborne : bass and then Mike Henderson : guitar feedback).  In addition are musicians Mike Murray on guitar atmosphere, piano, and Aaron Kenyon on bass effects.

As you might assume, the chemistry is great and the group is ultra-tight. Many of their previous recordings straddled a more aggressive King Crimson and Pink Floyd mellow sound but this one keeps a more world fusion and laid back styling. Although you’ll hear a couple of quick surprises here and there. Overall, the ten compositions explore a range of space, reflection, desert landscapes, eastern meditation, playfulness, haunting dreamtime, and much more. Each tune is rich for the listener’s mind to imagine vivid scenes from a movie you make of your own, or pieces of one you may have already seen. A bonus that helps this along is the nice use of field recordings/found sound such as wind chimes, ocean, machines, crowds, a train, and even spoken word.

While one can hear bits and pieces of Vangelis, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Gandalf, Camel, Bo Hansson (Sweden), and a strong Fuhrs & Frohling (SFF) resemblance, Djam Karet retain a sound of their own, which they have developed and honed for 33 years. ‘Sonic Celluloid’ is highlighted by skilled musicianship by all. The entire disc is interesting with plenty of visions and a variety of atmospheres from exotic to simply beautiful. ‘Lower’ (track 9) is a jewel. Even your relatives will like this one. The ending track (‘The Denouement Device’) has great fretless bass (by Osborne),  along with gorgeous keys, dynamic drums, perfect lead guitar and the most orchestrated sounding song of the entire album. Very nice stuff.

Review by Lee Henderson 4 – 1 – 2018

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