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(45:12, HC Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Saul Says So (6:06) 2. Forced Perspective (4:29) 3. Long Shot (4:13) 4. No Narration Needed (5:53) 5. Numerous Mechanical Circles (4:02) 6. Oceanside Exterior (4:31) 7. Au Revoir Au Róve (4:16) 8. Flashback (3:40) 9. Lower (2:58) 10. The Denouement Device (4:40) LINEUP: - Gayle Ellett – electric & acoustic guitars, Greek bouzouki, Moog, Mellotron, Hammond & Rhodes - Chuck Oken, Jr. – drums, analogue & digital keyboard sequencing & soundscapes - Henry Osborne – bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10) - Mike Henderson – guitar feedback (4, 9) - Mike Murray – guitar atmospheres (7, 9), piano (9) - Aaron Kenyon – bass effects (9)
Prolusion. A unique, highly recognisable, trademark style; stability over the years in line-up, production and quality; deep, diverse and emotional music… There are not so many bands, actually, that can boast any one of these features. The Southern Californian band Djam Karet is one of the rare gems in the prog rock community that possesses them all and even more. The band’s most important feature, however, is its originality, which can be observed in both the overall musical picture and in every detail, such as the sound of drumming, the melodies developed by guitars or the atmosphere created by keyboards. In 2017 the team issued their 18th studio album titled Sonic Celluloid.
Analysis. Sonic Celluloid is strongly based on the ambient music, which is one of the band’s main aspects throughout their career. Every song is a new adventure full of bright visions and multi-layered emotions. The musicians fully achieved their purpose outlined in the title of the album and maintained by Gayle Ellet, which was to create mini-movies, where the picture is not on the screen, but in the listener’s imagination. Perhaps, sonically the album is closest to the second part of Recollection Harvest, but less dark. On the Sonic Celluloid you can find the entire wide range of other Djam Karet-specific features, too, such as spacey guitar solos, jazz improvisations (the band’s new side since the previous studio work, Regenerator 3017) on guitars and keyboards, unexpected dynamic and tempo switches and even some bluesy elements, but they are quite fragmentary here. That said, Sonic Celluloid is another solid album from a legendary band. The songs are short, but well-structured, diverse and interesting, each conveying its own message and each highly emotional in its own way. Nevertheless, the album lacks the dynamism, drama and epic character of Djam Karet’s best efforts, which to me are The Devouring, Recollection Harvest and, arguably, A Night For Baku. Hence only five stars.
Conclusion. Although not the best of Djam Karet’s works, Sonic Celluloid is highly recommended to their fans, who will find in its place all they love so much about the band – even the absence of vocals (except for a couple of phrases in a couple of songs) and, at the same time, will enjoy the Californians’ perpetual forward movement and ability to create an album, which is never the same as any previous one. It is also very advisable to lovers of top quality ambient music, who will surely relish the immense sonic world presented on the album.
Shamil “Proguessor” Gareev: May 26th, 2018