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Djam Karet

Reflections From The Firepool

Review by Gary Hill

Another Djam Karet CD being reissued on the Cuneiform label, this one is a great album, still firmly in the band's trademark style. Honestly, when you pick up a new album by this group, you pretty much know what you are getting. In this case, that is not a bad thing. The group always delivers plenty of surprises, but in their trademark guitar driven prog style. They never fail to entertain, and I have yet to hear a disc by them that I don't like. The lineup is Gayle Ellett, Mike Henderson, Chuck Oken Jr., and Henry J. Osborne.

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Track by Track Review
The Sky Opens Twice
With a racing sort of guitar sound, almost like a revving engine, this cut is off and quickly takes on a great upbeat funky texture with a guitar sound that is a bit in the mode of modern Rush. As the track winds through this mode, after a time it stops. Then the same sound that began this piece pulls us out of the temporary lull to bring us back into the melody mode, this time complete with a ripping guitar solo. It then gets a bit fusion oriented as it carries on. It seems to end, but then restarts and begins building in a completely new manner with a great melodic rock mode. This segment feels a bit in the style of Pink Floyd.
Fall of the Monkey Walk
Looped sorts of textural tones begin this piece. Tribal drums take control after a time. The composition builds from there, becoming a great number with wonderful Floydish textures. It slows after a time, then begins building. The song gets very dramatic and jazzy. After a time the percussion stops, leaving guitar that just seems to wail out. As different percussion begins, the track is reborn in new directions, a bit more straight forward rock oriented.
Run Cerebus Run
A slow textural intro ends when the instruments burst forth in a Deep Purpleish tone. The cut rather explodes in a strong '70's oriented prog mode that has some awesome bass work. It then shifts gear to a more Dimeola type segment that takes the composition to its conclusion.
Scenes From the Electric Circus
An oddly textured groove makes up the basis for the early moments of this cut, and overlaid jamming moves it in a nearly hypnotic manner. It then drops to a percussive, almost techno, approach. That then turns into a weird sort of jam based on that setting. This segment is rather Crimsonesque.
Animal Origin
Echoey bass guitar droning combined with night sounds begin this track. As the music begins to pick up, it starts building on these themes, at first in a Rushish tone, then moving into an adventurous and original type of sound. This one gets a bit Floydish after a time. It features a very tasty guitar solo that leads to a false ending. The composition comes back out in full force, seemingly right where it left off. This jam takes the cut into the outro.
All Doors Look Alike
Percussion starts this one, and as the instruments join in it is in a quirky modern Crimsoid sort of texture. Saxophone that calls to mind the wild antics of Hawkwind's Nik Turner rounds out the arrangement for this section. The track shifts gear into a more melodic mode. Weird atmospheric strains take over for a time with melodic acoustic guitar overlaid. A feedback dominated textural mode takes over for a time, then a great acoustic guitar progression becomes the focal point. This gives way to more sound effects that end the piece.
The Red Monk
Asian oriented chiming begins this one. The cut starts building on this mode in a percussive direction. Next a Primusish bass line comes in, driving the song into its next movement, hard-edged prog jamming. Odd feedback dominated sounds serve as the overlay for a time, until a fun sounding rather traditional prog fast paced movement takes the piece. It then moves into a funky sort of jam. This part really grooves in a classic rock sort of style.
Reflections From The Firepool
Distant bass cries begin this one and the band starts to slowly build upon this foundation. This gradual progression comes across as rather Floydish. A thunderstorm takes the cut for a time, and as it comes out of that, the mode is completely changed. A fast moving, xylophone-sounding segment begins this movement and screaming guitar completes the picture. This is frantic hard-edged prog that really moves. Train sounds take the cut for a few moments. As the music comes out of that, it is with sedate acoustic tones that seem to reek ethnicity all over the place without touching on any specific nationality.
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