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Djam Karet - Sonic Celluloid CD (album) cover

SONIC CELLULOID

Djam Karet

 

Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 58 ratings

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Kepler62
5 stars Another abstruse offering from these California revolutionaries in their fearless quest to transcend art. Once again, there's no faithfulness to style and anything flies, although conspicuous acknowledgements are made to Jean Michel Jarre and Pink Floyd amongst others without being too pronounced. Those familiar with Djam Karet and their revisionist approach to creating music will find that Sonic Celluloid is much more expressive than some of their previous work. Imbued with waves of keyboards, magnetic instrumental sweeps and electronic scenery each composition possesses it's own curious identity within the concept of music as film.

Contrastive elements and ideas form the notion of an aural gallery. 'Saul Says So', 'Forced Perspective' and 'Long Shot' that introduce the work are more illustrative of the Djam Karet modus operandi. We get dynamic mingling of Hammonds and mellotrons along with cool jazzy electric and acoustic guitar runs, subaqueous bass, and Chuck Okden jr's usual spot on drumming. The latter part of the album shifts into Buddhist mode with tracks such as 'Numerous Mechanical Circles' with it's creeping world beat that resembles some of the reworked material that appeared on Peter Gabriel's soundtrack for the 1984 film 'Birdy'. The metallic 'Oceanside Exterior' with its coastal ambience and 'Au Revoir Au Reve' are sympathetic to one another and induce dreamlike neural sensations. 'Flashback' is like a narcotic with it's looping phantom rhythm, mellotron backdrop and quixotic guitar lines. 'Lower' gets very metaphysical and conveys nothingness. With no beginning or end it just wallows on in lethargic fashion as it cross fades out into human crowd chatter that makes it even more claustrophobic. The most interesting piece for me was 'No Narration Needed'. The piece opens with a lonely introductory melody that is abandoned for a picturesque ceremony in an ethereal garden with exotic lizards perched on rocks and foliage. A Greek bouzouki entertains and is joined by an acoustic guitar. My only qualm: too short. The capstone of this mind meld, 'The Denouement Device', features bass player Henry J. Osborne's melodious bass lines. It sculpts and intensifies, blending multiple melodies using all sorts of keyboard wizardry and electric guitars and is by far the most complex piece on the whole album. At times it reminds me distantly of 'Entangled' from the 1976 Genesis Trick Of The Tail album possibly revealing early musical roots..

I wouldn't say that listening to Sonic Celluloid was like watching a collection of short films in my head Admittedly it's a pretty far out concept and must be approached with a problematic mindset Largely produced under the direction of mastermind Gayle Ellett with contributions of varying degrees from the other members, to those not acquainted with the Djam Karet method Sonic Celluloid will tend to sound disjointed at times. Even I found myself saying, 'why the freak did you have to stop there? I was just getting into it', on more than one occasion. Nonetheless the knowing ones such as myself will revel in this Jewel. Djam Karet madness all the way! It also seems that they are on some sort of fantastic crusade to out-engineer/produce each previous album. The production here is simply exquisite and Sonic Celluloid is definitely one to lose your mind with with the headphones cranked to infinity!

Kepler62 | 5/5 |

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