Djam Karet — Collaborator
(HC Productions HC008, 1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1994-10-01:Having followed this band since their 1987 cassette release The Ritual Continues, I've always felt that their strongest suit was their ability to create atmospheres, emotional sonic textures that speak to the inner being. In their earlier days these were well integrated with their 'rock' tendencies to create a powerful and well balanced musical whole. In recent years the band has developed a split-personality, one of moody electronics and the other of jagged edged progressive rock, exemplified by their 1991 dual CD releases Burning the Hard City, which contained almost none of their experimental electro/acoustic material, and Suspension & Displacement, which essentially contained no rock. The division left less room for those tracks which straddled the lines in between the two styles, which was always their most interesting material. After three years and some personnel changes, the band has returned with this latest effort, a collaboration with seven other artists in the electronic/ambient realm. The collaborators include some well known folks like Steve Roach, Kit Watkins, Carl Weingarten, Jeff Greinke and Walter Holland, as well as a couple names most may not be familiar with — Marc Anderson and Loren Nerell. These artists all prepared some material for the project, but purposely left it incomplete. DAT tapes of this material were then sent to the members of Djam Karet, who completed the project by mixing in their own inputs. Surprisingly, most of the material here works quite well, although it's all very low-key in nature, probably even more so than Suspension, and like most of the material by Roach, Greinke, Holland and such, this is great music for relaxing and freeing up the consciousness, but I wouldn't recommend it while driving or operating heavy machinery! Most of the tracks are in the three to six minute range, short enough so that they don't wear out their welcome, but you'd know Steve Roach would have to contribute the longest track here, clocking in at nearly thirteen minutes; even so, it works. Standout tracks here include the "Salt Road" collaboration with Carl Weingarten, "Moorings" with Kit Watkins and Loren Nerell, and the Walter Holland contribution "Cliff Spirits." At 72 minutes, though, I rarely last through the whole play (of course the same could be said of World's Edge or any of a number of records by the various 'collaborators'). Overall an excellent release, but in the long term I think the band could do themselves a big favor by re-integrating their sound.
by Dan Casey, 1994-10-01:Finally, the wait is over. Three years after the awe-inspiring double release of Burning the Hard City and Suspension & Displacement, America's premier progressive ensemble have returned, but have undergone a major facelift. Drummer Chuck Oken, Jr. has bailed out, and before that word was out of lead guitarist Mike Henderson's departure. Although Mike has returned to guest on this effort, Djam Karet are currently bassist Henry J. Osborne and guitarist Gayle Ellett. The premise of Collaborator is this: using tidbits of incomplete musical fragments created independently by friends of the band onto DAT, Djam Karet would take those bits and finish them off with their own unique touches. These collaborators include Marc Anderson, Kit Watkins, Jeff Greinke, Steve Roach, Walter Holland, Loren Nerell, and Carl Weingarten. With a cast like that, it shouldn't be surprising that this album would further explore the more ambient side of the band, but rest assured this album is a far cry from a rehash of the ground already covered on the amazing and revolutionary Suspension & Displacement. Where that album used many acoustic guitars and electric guitar loops and patterns, this new release is void of either of those. There are more keyboards than ever before (again no surprise when you consider the musicians involved) and more emphasis on percussive backdrops. Holland's bright sequence which opens the album, and Greinke's delicate piano chords which close it are both timbres previously unfamiliar to the Djam Karet lexicon. The first two tracks are deceptive in their optimism and brightness, since the rest of the album is remarkably dark and haunting. Djam Karet continue to pioneer the electronic genre, with an unparalleled understanding of the timbral complexity required to make music of this nature succeed. And succeed they do, on a grand scale. This album strikes a deep nerve, and is emotionally stirring — the mark of master craftsmen. Highly recommended, and undoubtedly one of the year's best efforts.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Big Brother & the Holding Company - Live in San Francisco, 1966 – Live in San Francisco 1966 is an early recording by the band, from July 28th, only about six weeks after Janis joined the band. The fourteen songs presented here are loaded with energy, great playing... (2004) » Read more