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DJAM KARET - Still No Commercial Potential (private, 1998)

Seventy minutes of improvised Djam Karet at their best! For those who know the dark, rhythmic, spacey combo, this should send them into paroxysms of ecstasy before they rush out to get their hands on this disc. For those of you who need an introduction, Djam Karet are a dark, instrumental fusion-tinged prog rock act who have been recording and (occasionally!) performing in Southern California for the last sixteen years.

It is a testament to the skill of these musicians that the listener can often forget that this is an improvised release. The overall tone isn't too dissimilar to previous Djam Karet discs like The Devouring or Reflections From the Firepool, with slowly-developing hypnotic grooves that undergo subtle changes as languid solos overlay them.

The first track might as well be from the aforementioned Reflections... as it mines similar ground. The second wouldn't be too out of place on their ambient masterpiece Suspension and Displacement (recently reissued by Cuneiform records, along with its companion piece Burning the Hard City), while "The Black Line" amply displays Henry Osborne's prowess on that prog rock staple, the didgeridoo. The award, however, has gotta go to the twenty-eight minute "Strange Wine From a Twisted Fruit," beginning as it does with a gentle clean intro and eventually careening toward the end of the world in grand style. Spellbinding all the way through.

It bears repeating that all of these tracks display an incredible togetherness that I can't say I've ever witnessed before in an improvisational progressive rock band. If this stuff is genuinely "wholly improvised with no predetermined structure, key or rhythm," it's simply incredible how in touch with each other these four gentlemen have become over the years. Every ebb and flow, every peak and valley is completely understood by each member of the band, resulting in cohesive tracks that sound more composed than improvised. Wonder how much tape was running during these sessions? How 'bout another few releases of this stuff, guys? Please?

Djam Karet's composed studio releases have always seemed a little stilted and rigid to me, though they have impressed me mightily in a live setting. In No Commercial Potential, we have what may well be Djam Karet's best release -- the one that, through the harnessing of their spontaneity, comes closest to capturing the spirit of their live shows (well, maybe apart from the live Live at Orion, but y'know what I mean).

Still No Commercial Potential - "At the cusp of chaos and order much like life itself," or so sayeth the printed-on-recycled-paper booklet. Kickass. -- Mike Thaxton

"The Devouring"
1997, Cuneiform Records, (Rune 99) DJAM KARET P.O. Box 1421 Topanga, CA 90290, USA Phone or FAX: (310)455-3445 http://www.djamkaret.com Yow!! Here's 10 cuts of "the good stuff"!! You like Floyd? Howzabout some kickin' King Crimson? Add a dash of vintage Blue Oyster Cult and Captain Beyond tradin' extended jams sans distracting vocals. That's just the first cut! "Night of the Mexican Goat Suckers" clears out your head's slow lane and cements a brick to the accelerator while cutting the brake lines. Next, "Forbidden By Rule" unleashes warrior cyborgs bursting through the asphalt to decimate oncoming traffic with a MONSTER bass line. The earth falls away beneath you as a Gilmouric lead break splits the stratosphere. All about you mellotrons careen across the great chasm of Time, lifting the spirits of Nostalgia up from the Abyss. Get outta my way you juvenile, "smashed pumpkin-heads"! This CD shows what the mellotron is really capable of. Ah, King Crimson's walls of noise bury you in black velvet repose. "Lost But Not Forgotten" gets back to the 70's roots of progrock with Tangerine Dreamy, Yes-ish passages gilded with crisp Floyd riffs and leads. Being an ex-UFO chaser myself, my near favorite piece is "Lights Over Roswell". This song is what end-of-the-millenia 1990's polished rock is all about. I heard Stu Hamm and Michael Manring bass precision with UK jazz/fusion packaging by Eddie Jobson. Bass players who want to know skill need to hear this cut. Sheesh, these guys JAM!! I gotta stop here but believe me, the rest of this CD is quality. "Myth of a White Jesus", "River of No Return", "Room 40", "The Indian Problem", "The Pinzler Method" and "Old Soldier's Disease" finish out over 70 minutes of well-honed progrock that explores the realms of Dreamtime. Add this to your collection and file it between Floyd and Fripp. DJAM KARET is Gayle Ellet on a massive myriad of guitars, various keys, and other eclectic items, Henry J. Osborne on bass, guitars, keys and more, Chuck Oken Jr. on drums and keys, with Mike Henderson guest guitars on assorted tracks. Judy Garf does rhythm violin on the smokin' "Roswell" cut. -- John W. Patterson EER-MUSIC.com TOP PICKS

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CD Review for fAZE 3 magazine "Collaborator" 1994, (HCOO8) DJAM KARET and others (see contact info above) Well this one doesn't fit in any "middle-of-the-road" rock niches or musical genre most are familiar with. As soon as I looked at the folks featured in the collaborative list, I thought, "This will be very cool or really bad". Progrockers with ambient synths? Maybe. Let's have a listen. DJAM KARET has a wide taste in their influences and are musically diverse and very capable in their own compositions. (See "The Devouring" review.) Their augmentations of DAT recorded sound sculptures are incredibly well envisioned and deftly executed. Ellet, Osborne, and Henderson bring subterranean, submarine, and other wordly forms of life out to the light. What stands bfore the listener is fever-dreamed, phantasmic, eerie, and at times unsettling. Think soundtrack, think haunted and looming presences. This stuff does not relieve paranoid dementia. Look at these titles if you don't understand; "Solar Flare", "Gondwanaland", "The Anointing of the Sick", "The Day After", "Foreign Lesion". You see now? "The 17th Karmapa" holds a gigantic tuning fork against your throbbing skull and oscillates on overload. Drift in an ebony sea on the forbidden planet with "Moorings" or wash up on the shores of lost kingdoms of "Cliff Spirits". The Great Deafening god approaches you in "Submersion" and then you are pulled beneath the sepulchres of Atlantis by "Food Chain" and left for dead as the band plays on. "Salt Road" is an astral trip through the Ganges to Nirvana. "Collaborator" then does you in as Cthulhu rises from the sunken cities of "The Fearful Void". If you like your ambience dark, brooding, noisome, and draining, then this CD is for you. "Collaborator" is beckoning from the oozing silence, "Buy me . . .buy me . . .buy . . .me . . ." --John W. Patterson

CD review for fAZE 3 magazine BUY THIS CD NOW!
Burning The Hard City
-DJAM KARET 1991 DJAM KARET/HC Productions (see contact info above) DJAM KARET never ceases to amaze me with the variety of stylistic veins of sound they mine and bring back "gold and gems". If you are a guitarhead as myself but tired of the same old riffs and flashy jams without soul nor thought, then stop here and rest in an oasis of endless groove. Experience guitars clean and relaxing with cutting edge, then mutate into overdriven madness and on throughout fuzzed jams and a breakdown that pushes the C.O.C envelope of their "Blind" days. These guys have take feedback and sustain into a perfectly honed art. You just heard the first cut, "At the Mountains of Madness". Continue in a Ministry meets Metallica meets C.O.C. meets Black Sabbath in "Province 19: The Visage of War". This cut is BIG and MEAN and says shut-up and play yer guitar! Hey wait a minute, where's my metal mommie? Ah, DJAM KARET breaks into a Wishbone Ash strut. Fear not metal-heads for they outro very PHAT down the behemoth trail with screamin' banshee attacks. RIP IT UP!! Third cut we flow across the river Styx and the begging boatman carries you to the "Feast of Ashes" and the darkness covers all. Anguished guitar crying of yesterday mellows into a 70's Yes/Wishbone Ash nostalgic moment. Then the Ruler of the Underworld reaches out his hand and you drift past the dogs that guard Hell. Synthesizers, rainsticks, and endless sustained guitars weep over your passing. THIS STUFF IS SO NICE!! Another pristine outro of guitar as you accept the end of all things. Track four, weird, so twisted is "Grooming the Psychosis" in its intro. Then you groove to an Andy Summers type guitar voicing and the bass work is awesome! Go, Henry! I never know whether Gayle or Mike is doing the specific guitar parts but both these dudes SMOKE and blend. I can only think of two other guitarists that do so well together. I speak of Brett Garsed and T. J. Helmerich. Back to this cut. Lead after lead after lead and on into a whirling dervish of bizarre scales that resolves itself a Satriani-like "Hordes of Locust" ending. Fifth cut is riveted right down squarely in an early 70's groove in a very rollin' down the highway feeling. Allman Brothers meets Wishbone Ash and Rick Derringer's bite wanders in to place you on "Topanga Safari". Sweet and simple staight up rock. Next up is "Ten Days to the Sand" and I feel like I'm wandering the wilderness and an ominous wind is rising. A wide open Andy Summers feel molds the guitar work. Then a new vista appears over the horizon and we boogie on with a tempo change and a Floyd leadbreak that delivers! Later a fat, delay driven, reverby groovin' guitar sets up a sandstorm that blasts you away. Vavoom!! Floyd meets Leslie West with Santana for the outro laced with shimmering clean rhythm guitar. Well done! Last track is the title cut, "Burning the Hard City" and the Mega fission bomb is about to fall. Your head just happens to be ground zero. Get ready as the tension builds. There is no place to hide. You lift your eyes to see the approaching hordes of destruction. A bluesy snarl of weeping guitars bring you to your knees as each note is strangled out to its ultimate intensity. These guys know the "soul" of tone and sustain and what delicious attack!! Man! Whoa, you see the bombs falling but in the distance is the bomb shelter. A helter skelter jam erupts as DJAM KARET leads the hasty jam down the street to a bomb shelter built in Ireland. I mean I hear jigs and reels and then a funked up throw-down. These guys know no boundaries. Lovely changeups! Old Buck Dharma crazy stuff fades as the last jig is played. Refer to my other reviews for the band members but believe me, they all make this rig fly! This CD is a must for folks who think they know their rock. Educate yourself with over 69 minutes of trippin' tunes that take your head places, old heavy metal tanks can't travel. Good job, DJAM! I know the drummer, Chuck Owen, Jr. had to be exhausted after these cuts. He cooked!!! -- John W. Patterson EER-MUSIC.com TOP PICKS

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