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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Djam Karet

The Ritual Continues

Review by Gary Hill

This album is an early release by Djam Karet, but still shows plenty of signs of the band that they are today. This group is one of the few who can create entire albums of instrumental music that are satisfying and feel complete. Generally I have trouble getting through whole discs that are done sans vocals, but for some reason these guys manage to weave enough drama into their musical landscape to make it work. That is truly a feat, and this album is no exception to that rule. Indeed, there are many sections here that truly stand out at least as high as anything else in the group's catalog.

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Track by Track Review
Shamen's Descent
Atmospheric and ethereal keyboard tones begin this one. Percussion eventually enters followed by the other instruments. The effect here is something like an instrumental cross between Rush and Pink Floyd. Wages of guitar stream across as the group builds this into a powerful jam. It takes on more hard rock aspects as it carries forward. The percussion takes it again for a short time later, then the band launch to a new prog excursion that seems alike a fusionish take on Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. It drops back down to the slightly more sedate later.
Tangerine Rabbit Jam
Percussion starts this then a funky bass line takes the composition. As it runs the band create a fusionish jam over top of it. After a time they ramp it up into a hard-edged Crimson like excursion. This then seems to alternate between a straight-ahead rock and roll approach and more weird out of control jamming for a while before returning to the earlier more melodic segment. Eventually keys alone take it heralding a shift into a weird experimental segment. That leads to the crescendo that ends the piece.
Familiar Winds
Keys that feel like the intro to Hawkwind's "Motorway City" star this, and as the full band joins in it is in a very meaty jam that has the best texture of anything on the disc thus far. They weave this into a brilliant musical exploration that at once feels both like modern prog and like fusion jazz. The guitar solo here is very tasty, and this one has quite an enjoyable groove. The band creates various textures and modes around this musical themes for an extremely satisfying and enjoyable piece of music. It is especially dynamic while staying close to the progression that started it. The group continues to find various intriguing ways to express and re-express the theme.
The Black River
A dramatic and powerful droning starts this, then effects join for a time before waves of keys emerge over the of this backdrop to create brilliant contrast. This has a very strong atmospheric texture, seeming as if it would be quite at home in a film soundtrack. Eventually the droning takes over until a rubbery bass line and percussion enter bringing the track into new territory. This evolves into a whole new segment, a somewhat Floyd, somewhat Rushish excursion that still is laid over top of the droning. Eventually the droning drops away, and the jam shifts into high gear and runs through that way until the conclusion.
Technology and Industry
A frantic rhythm section begins this and continues as the only instrumentation for quite some time until the song shifts into a frantic King Crimson like jam that really grooves. This gets frantic and extremely potent. This is quite dynamic and yet has a solid consistency.
The Ritual Continues
Percussion and East Indian tones start the title track. This gradually ramps up in both speed and intensity, and other strange tones begin to emerge over top. It then starts wandering through gradual varying manifestations on this, the percussion truly driving it. A new them, very rhythmic in nature begins to be hinted at, then short bursts of sound weave over top as a more rock based rhythm comes in. The cut returns after a time to its origins, then a newer King Crimson like sound emerges over the top of this backdrop and begins to grow. After a while this takes over, then a modern Rushish segment gains control. This carries it through to an outro that has more of the East Indian textures.
Fractured
Dark atmospheric tones begin this one. Weird waves of keys and clanging bell like sounds take it until dark, nearly symphonic slow moving tones emerge from there. Then the chiming takes it again. The cut begins alternating between these two modes. Eventually a fast paced tribal rhythm emerges amongst the chiming. This mode carries through for quite some time until ending the cut.
Night Scenes
A spoken count in leads to a balladic like prog section that is one of the most melodic the band has ever done. This slowly builds for a time, then slows to a false ending. The acoustic guitar chimes in an increasingly dissonant and minor keyed manner, and gradually sound effects and loops create a psychotic texture that calls to mind some of the weirdness of old Pink Floyd. As voices and laughter come in over top an increasingly frantic bass driven segment, the effect reminds this reviewer of the audio simulations I've heard of schizophrenia. This crescendos, then a new melodic, yet off kilter and slightly twisted segment takes the piece. This morphs into a somewhat dark chorus with actual (albeit basically non-lyrical) vocals. For some reason this segment reminds me a bit of Janes Addiction.
Revisiting A Nice Place: Falling Down 1993
At nearly seventeen minutes, this epic is by far the longest track on the disc. Nature sounds start this. Gradually atmospheric tones join the birds and water sounds. Eventually these waves begin to build. Hints of melody gradually emerge. Percussion also makes occasional appearances. It is almost five minutes in, though, before a true melody takes over from the sounds, this a slow moving and pretty progression. It becomes quite powerful as it carries on. Percussion eventually creates hints of a faster to song to come; yet the other instruments are not to be hurried on their path. Varying melody lines emerge over top in a fairly restful manner, and the nature sounds eventually come back up into the mix, while the instruments begin to fade back and seem to end the piece much as the began it. Suddenly the sounds of a motor enter followed by screaming guitar. A noisy chaotic series of sounds take it for a time, then waves of guitar that feel like whale song emerge alongside weird sound effect loops. Then more instrumental chaos takes it. Machine sounds and voices compete with flourishes of strange guitar and weird backing melodies. Then more chaotic jamming is the order of the day until an echoed spoken loop leads to another false ending. Processed guitar screams come up from there. This intermixes with various dark and mysterious later on, then movie soundtrack type sounds appear occasionally and the entire cut warps down to silence to end.
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