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Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Djam Karet — Island in the Red Night Sky
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-09-10

Island in the Red Night Sky Cover art

No reader of Exposé should be unfamiliar with Djam Karet — the band has been a going concern since the mid-80s and Exposé has been championing their work as long as we have been in existence. Each new release has something new on offer that confirms their ongoing evolution and development. Their Bandcamp site shows two dozen previous albums, their official site shows about thirty, yet the one-sheet that accompanies this release states that it’s their twentieth. Regardless, any way one looks at it, that’s plenty of music to explore for anyone just getting started with the band. Island in the Red Night Sky features the original four members that featured on the band’s first cassette in 1985 (and many more thereafter): drummer Chuck Oken Jr., guitarist Mike Henderson, bassist Henry Osborne, and multi-instrumentalist Gayle Ellett, with most of the members doubling on keyboards and synths, as well as guests Todd Montgomery (sitar on two cuts), Mark Cook (multi-guitars, piano), and Hani Naser (chanting on “The Other Side”). The eight tracks on Island in the Red Night Sky are perhaps a bit more electronic, mysterious, and dark compared to your average DK album; it’s intended to be a companion release to the band’s previous A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof (2019), much in the same way that Burning the Hard City and Suspension and Displacement (both 1991) or New Dark Age and Ascension (both from 2001) related to one another, a strategy which makes sense when a band’s collective sound has so many multiple personalities. The set opener, “Arrival,” features a sequenced electronic undercurrent until the drums, bass, and acoustic guitars enter at around the one-minute mark, after which it returns, repeats, and shifts gears repeatedly over the its six minute duration. The closer, “A New Dawn,” also plays out over a sequenced bed of electronic sounds, with some beautiful guitar solos alternating with Mellotron backing as the piece proceeds to its fade. They do occasionally use some field recordings tastefully blended with their instrumentation on some of the tracks. Other standouts include “Code T1241,” a piece that has numerous facets utilizing electronics, loops, exotic acoustic instruments, and much more in an ever-shifting sonic panorama, and “Light Scattering by Small Particles,” again built on a busy electronic sequence in a constant state of flux. Island in the Red Night Sky stands as one of Djam Karet’s more dark and mystical releases, exploring plenty of new territory along its path.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Djam Karet, Mike Henderson, Chuck Oken, Gayle Ellett


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