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Djam Karet

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Djam Karet Burning The Hard City album cover
3.66 | 60 ratings | 8 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. At The Mountains Of Madness (9:17)
2. Province 19: The Visage Of War (8:13)
3. Feast Of Ashes (10:46)
4. Grooming The Psychosis (11:57)
5. Topanga Safari (5:57)
6. Ten Days To The Sand (11:07)
7. Burning The Hard City (12:07)

Total Time: 70:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Gayle Ellett / 6- & 7-string electric guitars, keyboards, tape effects, percussion
- Mike Henderson / electric 6- & 12-string guitars, effects, keyboards
- Henry Osborne / 5-string bass, "bottled" bass, keyboards, percussion
- Chuck Oken, Jr. / drums, electronic drums, synthesizer, programming & sequencing

Releases information

First of a 2 CD set consisting of this disc & its companion release, "Suspension & Displacement"

Artwork: Dave Druse

CD HC Productions ‎- HC006 (1991, US)
CD Cuneiform Records ‎- Rune 128 (2000, US) New cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DJAM KARET Burning The Hard City ratings distribution

(60 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

DJAM KARET Burning The Hard City reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
3 stars Two of DJAM KARET's early works have been re-released and available again on the magnificent Cuneiform label. "Burning the Hard City" and "Suspension & Displacement" were released simultaneously in 1991. This release is a little bit harder and heavier than their later recordings. DJAM KARET's music is all-instrumental, and it's a mix of GENESIS, HAPPY THE MAN, KING CRIMSON and PINK FLOYD. The mixing and production isn't very good on this CD, but then again it is, as I said, an early DJAM KARET release. - DJAM KARET has released far better albums later in their career, both as composers and musicians. This album has a flat sound and it lacks a lot of dynamic. The music also tends to get to repetitive and boring. "Province 19: The Visage Of War" is however a good track. I usually like DJAM KARET's music a lot, but this album never grows on me. Buy their masterpiece "The Devouring" instead.
Review by lor68
3 stars Sorry for the low score, but to me this is a "backwards step", in comparison to their best album "The Devouring", a must have within the so called "Modern Art Rock" movement, a bit "ambient music-like". Finally the output is anyway good, but there are some defects! The atmospheric soundscape of this album is not suitable in this contest; and moreover the presence of some distorted guitars can result strident here, because you find some repetitive themes and a certain lack of a precise direction too... for this reason to me there's no improvement within this album, in comparison for instance to the splendid "Devouring"; nevertheless the solid drumming and the excellent bass guitar work as well, along with the intensity of their performance in general, make this album quite captivating!! However "Feast of Ashes" and "Ten Days to the Sand" are the best tracks of the album. In particular the guitar solos, always soaring, and the varied mood as well, regarding such an ambient atmosphere, make the compositions of DJAM KARET a good modern art rock stuff, which is worth checking out at least!!
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This album is the highpoint in their early career IMHO and I can only recommend to start by this one if you are new to them. A lot of the material smokes on this album and sometimes veers towards metal with MC5 or Stooges guitar distortions or Frippian riffs. I also hear many elements in this early album that I will find in much later album such as Baku or New Dark Age.

Note to Lethe: I am not sure how this album can be a "backwards step" to an album that will come in three or four years later. Sure this album is not the quiet Collaborator (Boooring) . I must have a different version of this album (and with a different cover than this one above) and have not noticed problems soundwise. Of course one cannot do miracles with poorly recorded master tapes but there is nothing shameful.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Burning the Hard City" is one of the hottest and fiercest musical works ever in the history of prog rock, and definitely, a cornerstone in the development of Djam Karet's sound, mostly, their rockier side. The sounds displayed in the repertoire's riffs, atmospheres, leads, rhythms and moods could literally burn any hard city around. Even though their recording history was still in its early stages, you can tell that these guys have come to know each other pretty well, since they seem to think with one mind while preserving each individual input's integrity. Well, the general sound displayed all throughout this album is so loud and ballsy that it may seem hard to notice for the first listens, but if you pay a closer attention, you will feel it clearly. This albums is mostly a catalogue of musical intelligence worked out from the more aggressive side of the band's artistic ideology. 'At the Mountains of Madness' is a top-notch opener, built on the solid management of the main motifs and its further expansions. Alongside the two guitars' solos and riffs, which seem to echo the distant cries of lost souls in limbo, the rhythm duo of Oken Jr. and Osborne reveals itself as an immaculately cohesive unit. 'Province 19: The Visage of War' goes to more animalistic places, closely related to prog-metal to a degree, but also related to vintage psychedelia and experimental jazz- rock. The reiteration of the main motif and the addition of guitar textures as controlled solos serves as an efficient tension provider, a tension that only makes the motif's inherent darkness turn a bit darker yet. The rhythm section is, once again, the main responsible of variations and extra colors among the sonic storm created by the two guitars. I have read in some e-zines that this track is a bit too repetitive, but I find it effective and one of the most powerful tracks in the album... and in their history, as well. As a counterpart, 'Feast of Ashes' offers an exercise in languid, reflective moods, albeit not exempted of tension: only this time it appears in a more subtle fashion, like a hybrid between mid-70s PF and standardized space-rock. 'Grooming the Psychosis' brings a moderately joyful cadence based on jazz-rock nuances, until the hard rock thing takes main control from minute 4 onwards, making things get more complex. Anyway, Osborne's deliveries help to keep the jazz factor remain as a more subtle remnant until the end of the track, in this way dialoguing effectively with his partner guitarists and helping the track not to drown in its own energy. 'Topanga Safari' does to more ethnic places, something like a funky-driven Ozric Tentacles augmented by the presence of Jeff Beck and Tony Levin - an effective mixture, indeed. 'Ten Days to the Sand' somehow recapitulates the overall progressive vibration of 'At the Mountains.' and the introspective aura of 'Feast of Ashes'. The namesake track is the very proper closure. Providing a mysterious Floyidian vibe for the first 7 minutes, frrom then on, things get more robust, leaning closer to the rougher parts of the aforesaid 'At the Mountains.' and 'Grooming the Psychosis', perhaps with a bit of late 70's Rush. The climax is built-up cleverly and confidently. Djam Karet have managed to give us prog- heads a couple of modern masterpieces of the genre. In my opinion, this is one of them, so I give "Burning the Hard City" the PA's perfect mark - 5 stars.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I'm perplexed as to the low ratings given to this amazing band.Thankfully Cesar Inca and Sean Trane both rate this one very highly as do I. This particular record has more aggression in it then their other albums do.This in part due to the fact that they released this record and "Suspension & Displacement" at the same time.This one is mostly hard and heavy, while the latter is spacey and atmospheric. Kind of what OPETH did in releasing "Damnation" and "Deliverance" at the same time.There are still the atmospheric moments on this disc but it's not like the previous record "Reflections From the Firepool" where we have a nice balance. Now having said all of that I love hard and heavy ! In the liner notes the band describes this album as a "classic instrumental progressive rock that is angry, powerful and relentless in it's pursuit of rhythmic intensity and passionate soloing".

"At The Mountains Of Madness" features lazy guitar melodies for 2 minutes before some great bass takes over, then they all join in.There is another change before 4 minutes as all of a sudden we have a jazz feel. Some incredible guitar follows, eventually leading us to some heavy, experimental guitar passages to the end of the song. "Province 19 : The Visage of War" is the darkest and heaviest song on the album.There is a letting up at one point but not for long as the guitars rule this song in a heavy handed way, including some blistering solos. "Feast of Ashes" is a song that displays the bands talent for spacey and atmospheric soundscapes. Some good guitar towards the end of the song, but this is for the most part a dreamy, spacey, synth laden feast.

"Grooming the Psychosis" opens with electronic sounds that are followed by a catchy melody. Some raw sounding guitar with drums being more prominant than usual. Guitars take the drivers seat for the rest of the ride. "Topanga Safari" has some fantastic guitar solos and the bass lines are way out in front. Nice. Apparently these guys are from a place called Topanga in California. "Ten Days To The Sand" has a fairly uptempo melody with more amazing guitar throughout. "Burning The Hard City" is my favourite track on this album. It opens with an eerie and haunting soundscape.The guitars and pounding drums break through this sound before being replaced 4 minutes in by FLOYD like sounds with soaring guitars leading the way. Beautiful. A guitar/drum melody sounds great before we get some screaming guitar.

I feel really privileged that I can review such an amazing band and album. And there are more coming, i'm just getting started with this bands body of work. I have to mention again that the album cover art on these re-issues are incredible !

Review by aapatsos
3 stars First experience with DJAM KARET and quite an interesting one: a versatile, complex album from the American eclectic-proggers that creates mixed feelings. This is the 6th (!!!) release from this relatively unknown band, whose name means "Elastic Time, The Hour That Stretches".

This feeling of time elasticity is apparent in this album (no matter how you would translate the meaning of elastic time...). Long, complex compositions with changes between highly technical eclectic prog passages and relaxed, mellow tunes (in the vein of Pink Floyd) are the dominant element of ''Burning the Hard City''. Especially the two first tracks are very much guitar-oriented with intensively heavy riffs (almost heavy fusion) and complex bass work in the vein of King Crimson, which appears to be the main influence of the band.

The approach, while still prog, shifts towards a more 'dreamy', psychedelic/space sound in Feast of Ashes and Grooming the Psychosis, with the former being heavily influenced by Pink Floyd bass lines, comprising of some very beautiful melodic passages and the latter flowing in the world of Ozric Tentacles, rising in complexity as the track evolves. A relaxing rhythm section is the main feature of Topanga Safari where the a la King Crimson bass work appears again.

Ten Days to the Sand is based on a slightly-distorted guitar background with numerous guitar solos on top of it that reminded me of Hidria Spadefolk's works that date back to clear Ozric Tentacles methodologies. The title track that concludes the album follows the same pattern for its first half while from that point onwards turns (yet again) into a guitar-oriented complex prog piece with interesting fusion elements here and there.

The album definitely has its moments of brilliance which, I have to admit, are several. The virtuosity and the complexity of the music are among the positive aspects even if sometimes the band seems to be exaggerating (see At the Mountains of Madness). Also, the compositions could have been more concise and not stretch for so long, as I find myself getting bored at some (limited) instances.

The fairest rating would be 3.5 stars as I don't consider this to be essential for prog fans. However, I would highly recommend it to fans of King Crimson and Ozric Tentacles. This album represents a strange but successful mixture from the genres of psychedelic and eclectic with a touch of heavy fusion.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album is easily the better of the two 1991 albums from Djam Karet. This one is the harder edged of the two. The sound is reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles, with a better feel for nonconventional time signatures. It's a very spacy, jam oriented album, with guitars and bass swirling around at all times. Although all four band members are credited with playing keyboards, they must be used mostly for washes and aural effect, as their presence sounds to me to be very minimal.

While I wouldn't call any of the players virtuosos, they are all competent enough to make this album an enjoyable listen.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Burning the Hard City is a great improvement over the debut album. The jams that serve as a basis for the guitar soloing are better developed and have more dynamic structures.

The great opener At The Mountains of Madness is a good example. Just like many tracks on the debut it consists of two parts, but instead of fading out one part and starting a second, here they have achieved to create a coherent structure with a nice heavy bridge around minute 6.00 binding both parts together.

Province 10 is a must for all Red-era King Crimson fans. It starts with those typical solemn chromatic guitar progressions that are dead-heavy even though the distortion knob is hardly open. After 3 minutes they turn it into a short and vigorous fusion jam. They end it with the opening theme. Again a great composition.

Feast of Ashes is the first slower piece. Simply beautiful harmonies on this one. It's the sound of a very tight band with an excellent feel for timing. Topanga Safari is a bit less. The bass-line seems to come right out of one of Oldfield early works.

Grooming the Psychosis and Ten Days to the Sand are strongly recommended to all Ozric Tentacles fans out there. The pieces are not only very similar to early Ozrics, they are also every bit as good. Warning: Hypnotic, bouncy stuff! The title track begins in a great reflective Pink Floyd mood. Around minute 7 they crank it up with a Led Zeppelin'esque hard rock blues on funk jam.

Burning the Hard City is an excellent album to check out Djam Karet.

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