Exposé Online banner

Djam Karet — Collaborator
(HC Productions HC008, 1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1994-10-01:

Collaborator Cover art

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.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 5 , 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Steve Roach, Carl Weingarten, Djam Karet, Mike Henderson, Marc Anderson, Kit Watkins, Gayle Ellett, Jeff Greinke

More info

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Eric Glick Rieman / Lesli Dalaba / Stuart Dempster - Lung Tree – Although its presence on Recommended tells you something, all three of these musicians are likely little-known outside improvising circles. Rieman is the main force behind Lung Tree, as performer,...  (2006) » Read more

John Serrie - Century Seasons – Fear not the ethereal, new-age looking girl on the front. This set is subtitled "The Space Music of Jonn Serrie," and that is an accurate reflection of this excellent retrospective. Gone are...  (2001) » Read more

Epica, Arpia & Hyaena - Confini, Liberazione & Scene – Pick Up Records is a relatively new Italian label, their first release (Midian's Soulinside) came at the end of 1994, and they have since released a number of releases by relatively new bands,...  (1996) » Read more

National Health - Missing Pieces – After 20 or so years in the vault, many unreleased National Health treasures finally see the light of day. National Health ranks up there among the most important progressive rock bands of all time....  (1997) » Read more

Enzo Capuano - Storia Mai Scritta – A very rare Italian solo, Enzo Capuano's music cuts the line between Italian canzone (Battisti, early Storm Six and many more) and a symphonic soundtrack type of music. The vocal music is...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues