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(44:17; HC Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Beyond the Frontier 5:49 2. Long Ride to Eden 5:58 3. West Coast 5:57 4. A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof 11:05 5. Dust in the Sun 3:00 6. On the Third Day Arrived the Crow 4:03 7. Specter of Twilight 3:27 8. Night Falls 4:58 LINEUP: Gayle Ellett - harmonium, dilruba, guitars, ukulele, vibraphone, viola, bouzouki, EBow, bass, synth, Hammond, Mellotron, gopichand, tar, mbira, flutes, surmandal, tanpura, cumbus, congas, udu, krakebs, tambourine, bell, field recordings Mike Henderson - guitars, synthesizers Chuck Oken Jr. - drums, sequencing, soundscapes Henry Osborne - bass Mike Murray - mandocello, acoustic guitar with: Todd Montgomery - sitar, bouzouki Micah Nelson - charango Mark Cook - guitars, bass Shannon Michael Terry - Array mbira
Prolusion. Veteran US band DJAM KARET has been exploring the realm of progressive rock in their particular manner for close to 40 years at this point, with more than two dozen releases to their name all and sundry. "A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof" is their 19th studio album, and was self-released in 2019.
Analysis. I cannot state that I know enough about this band to say with any degree of certainty what is and what isn't a typical album by them, so those with a desire to know just that will have to look elsewhere. But on a general basis, I'd describe the instrumental variety of progressive rock explored on this album to be a calm, serene and dream-laden one, as well as a production that explore the contrasts between more Earthen atmospheres and impulses with a stronger cosmic connection. I'd say that something of a backbone of this album, or a foundation if you like, is the use of rhythm-oriented synthesizers, ones I'd often by right or by wrong describe as sequencers. Alongside drifting synth and keyboard details they give many of the compositions here something of a subtle Tangerine Dream flavor as a constant undercurrent throughout. This somewhat futuristic sounding core setting of the material is then expanded by various kinds of electronic effects, often providing a stronger cosmic vibe to the proceedings. And combined these details create a strong contrast to the more dominating aspects of this production. Guitars and other string instruments are given dominant roles throughout, as providers of recurring motifs as well as providing solo runs and intermediate details too. Most often providing a more grounded, folk-oriented mode of expression, but also occasionally flirting with more of a jazz-tinged mode of delivery and expression. Which is a striking contrast to the more electronic elements, and which in effects crafts some delightfully mystic moods and atmospheres. Toss in some flute details, sampled nature sounds and other types of live recordings, percussion details and rhythm details that also may reflect back to older musical traditions, and this blend of the new and the old can get truly captivating at it's best. To emphasize the more dream-laden aspects of the material, here, quite a few songs also feature intermissions or end sequences that have a stronger ambient feel to them. One might describe the entire album in an ambient context as a matter of fact, but in my view at least there's a bit too much going on in the more developed passages to truly justify this even of the music that has been created does share many characteristics of ambient music. Still, the more sparse, toned down parts of these compositions is a closer and more snug fit into that particular genre landscape, and is a part of the total album experience here. Djam Karet is a veteran band, and you can hear this from the manner in which the compositions have been made, from the mix as well as the production. This is a band that know very well indeed what they are doing on all levels, and as an album experience this is one without any weak points as such, other than the style and type of music explored obviously being a matter of subjective taste.
Conclusion. Djam Karet is a band that everyone should lend an ear at some point, if for no other reasons than to hear what consummate professional veterans do when they use their long experience as recording artists to craft a new album. Other than that, those who are fond of dream-laden, calm and serene instrumental progressive rock with world music and ambient elements explored in a subtly cosmic oriented context would be my description of the perfect audience for this album. Or, possibly, those who tend to enjoy a band like Ozric Tentacles in their calmer and more careful moments.
Progmessor: October 13th 2019
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