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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Djam Karet

A Night For Baku

Review by Gary Hill

This is arguably the strongest album Djam Karet has ever done, and they are a band with a history of producing strong discs! The group doesn't wander far from its tried and true method of creating instrumental guitar dominated prog that is both atmospheric and dynamic. However, in this disc they have managed to create what is probably some of the most accessible and tasty sounds of their career. They wander as far into the traditional progressive rock world as they ever have, and the result is a definite winner. This one is highly recommended to fans of the band, and definitely to those looking for an introduction to this great group. It is still a bit early in the year, but I expect this one to find its way into my list of best discs of 2003.

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Track by Track Review
Dream Portal
This is very dramatic music that at times feels like Pink Floyd, others like Joe Satriani, and still at other times Genesis. It features some sampled "vocals" and is quite probably the most traditional prog piece that Djam Karet has ever done.
Hungry
Rocking hard and fast, this feels a bit like modern Crimson. The cut has some cool keyboard/theremin overtones that impart a sci-fi movie sort of texture. It also includes some incredibly tasty guitar jamming. After a time a new rhythmic pattern, quite staccato, emerges. This serves to bring the composition down to nearly silence before a new jam, this one more of an off-kiltered fusion meets Dream Theater meets prog metal emerges. After this runs through showcasing some killer jamming, a funky movement takes its place. The band is on fire in this movement, with it focused pretty purely in a rocking fusion vein. Then a new metallic fury takes it. This evolves into a frantic instrumental excursion that is rather DTish. Eastern type melodies are brought in on this, and it gets incredibly intense. It drops to effects to end. This is arguably one of the strongest tracks the band has ever done.
Chimera Moon
Effects start this, then waves of sound begin to paint an ethereal picture. This wanders through spacey atmosphere. A door closes bringing silences followed by another door, then a new jam interspersed with sampled voices enters. This gets very intense and powerful in texture. It drops back to atmosphere and voices to end.
Heads of NI-OH
Jumping straight out of the previous cut, a triumphant sounding familiar refrain begins this, and the band moves through various changes on this in an accessible and quite uplifting and invigorating way. Eventually it shifts to a bouncy sort of prog rhythm, and the guitar begins to rule this zoo for a while. Then the keys take a solo mode for a time before the guitar screams back in. Eventually it drops to bass dominance, and as the other instruments join in, the track takes on a crazy circus texture that calls to mind Pentwater. This eventually turns more fusion oriented, and is very high energy. It goes through a false ending, then returns to the opening themes to end.
Scary Circus
The first minute and a half of this is made up of effects oriented strange keys, Then the cut explodes into a high energy jam that feels just a bit like what you might get if you put Boston, King Crimson, Yes and Jeff Back into a blender. This is certainly a shred-fest as it carries on.
The Falafel King
Appropriately Arabic tones make up the basis for much of this fusionish jam. This one feels a little like ELP for a few moments, though. Its crescendo serves to segue into the next number.
Sexy Beast
Garage band type distortion and feedback bring this one in, but are quickly replaced with a fairly accessible jam that feels just a bit Hendrixish, but still has a solid space rock texture. The bass certainly finds an opportunity to shine here. This evolves into something more traditional in prog texture for a time, but quickly reverts to its earlier character. The only complaint here is that it gets just a little noodly later on. Space sounds end the piece and serve as the segue into "Ukab Maerd".
Ukab Maerd
A keyboard beat coming out of the sound left behind by the previous number starts off, and the rhythm section puts down a solid beat to serve as the foundation. Over this is laid effects, sampling and meandering guitar all for a very interesting effect. This feels rather Crimsonish at times. It continues gaining intensity until dropping back to just a keyboard in rhythmic lines. Then new effects take it in atmospheric tones. These effects really take over the number for quite a while like a demonic possession or an excursion into psychosis.
The Red Thread
This comes in rocking with a tasty mode that owes as much to 1970's hard rock as to prog and space rock. The band works forward on this theme for a while, ramping up both the speed and intensity before a quick Zeppelinish burst gives way to a new section that showcases a slightly off-kilter prog sound that is similar to elements presented earlier on the CD. Then a guitar solo begins to wail overhead as the track carries on. This gives way to a short percussive segment, and then a new rocking jam with waves of keys over top takes over. This segment is quite accessible and tasty as the band takes various instrumental excursions over this theme. The keys at times feel rather Wakemanish, and in some strange way the arrangement even feels a bit Yesish here. Eventually this runs through and another hard rocking segment emerges based on the themes that started the piece. This eventually evolves out into an expansive jam that really grabs you. That short Zeppelinish riff serves as the outro.
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