Djam Karet - "A Night For Baku"
(Cuneiform Records 2003, RUNE 169)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
I well remember my elation last year when I received the news that Djam Karet would be replacing Starcastle on the bill at the ProgDay 2003 festival. I'd long been a fan of the band and was thrilled at the opportunity to see them do their magic live. The band met all my expectations in that performance and new bassist Aaron Kenyon was notable as being one of the more animated and humorous stage presences I've ever seen at a prog rock festival.
Djam Karet's music has much to offer both the space rock and prog rock crowds. When they're going hard and heavy they play some of the most exciting Rock music in the universe. Guitar fans will drool over the ripping but passionate leads that blow your mind while communicating pure unbridled passion. But the band also have an interest in ambient music. All members contribute some form of synth, keyboards and electronics, and they have created some beautiful soundscape works. The band's latest release, A Night For Baku, is a smoking hard rock and progressive tour de force that has left me breathless over multiple listens. The Baku of the title are spirits of the dream world and devourers of evil dreams and nightmares. They resemble lions, except they have the heads of elephants, which makes for a pretty freaky image in my mind.
"Dream Portal" opens the set and is an easy paced rocker with some gorgeous melodic guitar lines. I dig the backwards effects on the child's voice. But with "Hungry Ghost" we really start crankin. Heavy walls of proggy keyboards, wailing keyboard lines, and wah'd and ripping dual guitars from Henderson and Ellett. Over nine minutes the band build the intensity level, culminating in a total space rock blitz at the end. There's a cool jazz interlude too. "Chimera Moon" is an image inducing track that opens with cosmic space atmospherics. Soon there's a machine-like shift and we're launched into the main body of the track which is a killer metallic space rock tune. "Heads Of Ni-Oh" is a real head spinner that blends the bands trademark heavy rock with killer 70's styled prog keyboards and swirling spacey alien synths. But it also eases it's pace by ending with a calmer but purely majestic melodic segment.
"Scary Circus", "The Falafel King" and "Sexy Beast" are relatively short, but no less, smoking tracks. I dig the Middle Eastern theme on "The Falafel King" and love the gorgeous mixture of heavy rock and tripped out space atmospherics on "Sexy Beast". "Ukab Maerd" is a standout track that has some different elements. It begins as a frenetic head throbbing rocker with almost dancey electro patterns. But then we transition dramatically and are taken into the bowels of some futuristic factory with lots of machinery and fun space efx, which yet again moves on and transports us to what sounds like a Middle Eastern marketplace. In closing we are gently carried away on a floating carpet of space bliss with guest Steve Roach on what is credited as "ending guitar atmospheres". Finally, "The Red Thread" is a brain pounding space-prog rocker with smashing guitar chords, beautiful extended guitar notes and leads that will make you swoon, along with monster keyboards and battle-in-space shooting synths.
In summary, these guys never fail to light my fire. A Night For Baku is a non-stop space-prog smoker that will have your head banging and brain searing from beginning to end. And there's so much happening in the music that the discerning listener will keep coming back for more and more.
For more information you can visit the Djam Karet web site at: http://www.djamkaret.com.
A Night For Baku is distributed by Cuneiform Records. You can visit their web site at: http://www.cuneiformrecords.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Cuneiform Records; PO Box 8427; Silver Spring, MD 20907.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz