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Djam Karet - Ascension - New Dark Age, Volume 2 CD (album) cover


Djam Karet

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3 stars OK such "Modern Art Rock genre" is well represented by D.K. and much better than King Crimson nowadays!!Probably this good album is worth a 3 stars and an half score at least, because the hypnotic rhythms (for instance "Swimming in the big sky" is a typical example) and their clever arrangement of the melodic lines- created by the pretty acoustic guitars- are an interesting blend of good ideas of their own ("The hanging tree" is another confirmation) fact-as usual for this fertile band- you can find also a mix of electronic music, psychedelia and ambient music, seldom boring and often creative and original too. I think of the majority of their stuff, being more interesting in comparison for example to the material by Ozric Tentacles (the tunes by these latter are repetitive in several circumstances!!) or to the recent tiring albums by King Crimson as well, and D.K. are always a pleasant surprise...well actually the present album is not their best one and I prefer another kind of progressive music;however their approach is often simple and stunning in the same time, and for me that's enough to make this "Ascension New Dark Age Vol. 2" an interesting album in the average, to be checked out at least!

A US ensemble with a strong personality they are, anyway!

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Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What a unique little curio we have here. This is a limited edition release of which only 750 copies were made so you may want to get one sooner than later if you're interested in the band. "Ascension" is a collection of songs that "further explore the themes and concepts present during the recording sessions for New Dark Age" according to the CD booklet. The songs are quite moody and very spacey, much different from the wild electric guitar rock of my favorite DK album "The Devouring." And yet this is a very good album also that would appeal to most space rock fans, including "Echoes" era Floyd fans and maybe PT fans. Take a good look at the album cover and you'll have a visual reference point for the music within.

"Arose from the Ashes" begins with acoustic guitars with hand percussion and spacey synth. A distant electric guitar chord rings periodically in the background and fades out before being struck again. At 3 minutes we get some trippy sound effects and a cavernous sounding bass rises from our ashes with some strange Eno-inspired sound creatures here and there. I think this song and the last one are the best, easily over 4 stars. But some of the middle tracks are about 3 stars. This sounds like the soundtrack of a Sci-Fi movie as the camera pans over a misty swamp and we're waiting to see..something very strange. The song drifts into the next piece.

"Licking the Skull" which is thankfully short as we get what sounds like a dentist's drill looping over synths for 2 minutes. Perhaps the camera in our film is viewing the smoldering wreckage of our character's vessel on the surface of our weird planet as they try to fix it. Ok, this review is going to be another unconventional one, but so what.the music here surely is!

"The Hanging Tree" could be a mellow outtake from Deadwing. Slowly the drums and bass drift along until about 2:50 when we get one of the only stand-alone guitar "solos" on the album and it is a beauty. Very serene and Gilmourish and quite long the solo wanders for over 3 minutes as our camera eye sets in motion some kind of plot.

"Swimming in The Big Sky" is again medium tempo beginning with acoustics, hand percussions and effects. This song sounds like mid day in the land we awoke up in during the first track. The electric guitar comes and goes in explorative fashion as though we're searching for something. Gentle synth washes create the backdrop with an almost space-new age feel.

"Special Cases" begins mellow and beautiful before picking up at about a minute in. Here our characters have encountered life as we hear strange voices muddled in the distance around 3 minutes. This is the least substantial track on the album and definitely qualifies as "filler."

"Stage Three" finally brings back the band sound with the full drum kit and the PT feel although the pace seems deliberately controlled. Lots of lead guitar on this one but it is fully integrated into a soundscape rather than a typical stand alone solo. The persistent second guitar riffing brings our film to a conflict scene of some sort. I may have to write a screenplay and send it off to DK.

"Disintegration" is the epic 16 minute closer here and by far the highlight of the CD. Opening with an ominous space sound it quickly moves to the acoustic again. And odd sounding lead bass (I think) joins in for our first "happier" sounding feeling and the two play off each other for a long time with cymbals and sound effects in the background. Around 4 minutes we hear some brief choral voices in the distance as the initial acoustic/bass part falls away. Things shift dramatically to a faster paced rhythm and a strange mood again. Our film is now in its climax as the distorted voices and noises get freakier against phased synth programming. Around the half-way point some very cool flute has joined in what is now something of a tribal ritual pounding rhythm. The track is changing almost constantly from one weird thing to the next and by 12 minutes we've moved into an ambient electronic section, again like Eno or Popul Vuh stuff but much more active that rides out to the end of this strange song.

While certainly not essential this is a treat for fans of Ozric and Hydria although this may be a bit mellower, and fans of weird instrumental space rock with a relatively unstructured feel. You could put the headphones on and just drift away to this stuff as you write your own screenplay in your head. What happened to my characters? I'll never tell. 3 stars. Good album, not essential by any means, but nice. If you like DK you're going to love this, I just don't think that this is going to convince any non-fans on its own.

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Posted Monday, August 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars In the liner notes the band says "This limited edition cd of 750 copies is a companion release to "New Dark Age", as it further explores the themes and concepts present during the recording sessions...". In fact they even go as far to call it "New Dark Age Volume 2" above the song titles.

"Arose From The Ashes" opens with strummed acoustic guitar that reminds me of THE BEATLES "Norwegian Wood" everytime I hear it. This goes on for 3 minutes when it changes to an experimental final 2 1/2 minute of sounds that come and go. "Licking The Skull" opens with the sound of a drill. And like Finnforest I can't help but think of the dentist. The synths in the background really don't help as I just want to get through this one as fast as possible. "The Hanging Tree" is just a pleasure to listen to. Very relaxing and spacey much in the PINK FLOYD or early PORCUPINE TREE style. Like listening to a dream. Beautiful. Guitar comes in before 3 minutes and it continues until after 6 minutes. Just an amazing section.

"Swimming In The Big Sky" is mostly strummed guitar and drums with other sound effects. "Special Cases" opens with both electric and acoustic guitars. Heavy drums take over then deep bass comes and goes. Voices can be heard before 3 minutes as the melody stops. It's back 3 1/2 minutes in. "Stage Three" is heavy to begin with as drums pound and the guitar grinds. I really like this tune a lot. Some excellent bass late. "Disintegration" is the 16 minute closer. For the most part it's pretty ambient and repetitive with some spacey sections as well.

I'm a big fan of this band but there's not near enough on here to rate it 4 stars. Having said that, the songs "The Hanging Tree" and "Stage Three" make this one well worth owning.

Report this review (#179144)
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Review Permalink

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