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Djam Karet

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Djam Karet The Devouring album cover
3.66 | 86 ratings | 14 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Night Of The Mexican Goat Sucker (7:04)
2. Forbidden By Rule (5:55)
3. Lost, But Not Forgotten (7:45)
4. Lights Over Roswell (6:44)
5. Myth Of A White Jesus (4:19)
6. The River Of No Return (8:47)
7. Room 40 (8:36)
8. The Indian Problem (5:30)
9. The Pinzler Method (4:48)
10. Old Soldiers' Disease (11:04)

Total Time: 70:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Gayle Ellett / guitars (6- & 7-string electric, acoustic 12-string, 24-string steel, guitar synth, e-bow), organ, Mellotron, analog & digital keyboards, sampler, Theremin, koto, percussion & sounds
- Mike Henderson / 6- & 12-string guitars (1-3,5)
- Henry Osborne / 5-string bass, "bottled" bass, lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, keyboards, programming
- Chuck Oken, Jr. / drums, keyboard sequencing

- Judy Garp / rhythm violin (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Dave Druse

CD Cuneiform Records ‎- RUNE 99 (1997, US)

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DJAM KARET The Devouring ratings distribution

(86 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DJAM KARET The Devouring reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars DJAM KARET was founded in 1984 and they are playing guitar dominated all-instrumental progressive rock. They are mixing elements from New Age, Heavy Metal, Ambient, Eastern- and Electronic Music, and have created a unique sound that is hard to compare to any other band. You can hear some KING CRIMSON, OZRIC TENTACLES and influences from the classic bands such as GENESIS and PINK FLOYD. - The complexity of DJAM KARET is similar to KING CRIMSON, and they have received great reviews in big magazines such as ROLLING STONE, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, CD Review and Electronic Musician. They are excellent musicians and besides a numerous of releases with DJAM KARET, they've also done soundtracks for Television, Motion Pictures and TV-commercials. Although their music isn't easy listening, they have been played a lot by Radio stations, and that is fairly unusual in this genre. Besides Canada, they have fans in Brazil, Australia and the former Soviet Union among others. - Their music is sometimes emotionally dark and quiet with floating keyboards, and sometimes heavy, exquisite and aggressive rock with pulsating rhythms. They are mixing electric instruments with acoustic ones, and they have a great sense for good and melodic music. "The Devouring" contains 10 songs that varies in length between 4:19 to 11:04. You can't find any 3-minutes hit songs. - This is their first album that isn't released on their own label. Besides two electric guitars, bass and drums, there's instruments such as Mellotron, Koto, Theremin and African drums, together with modern instruments such as samplers, guitar Synth and E Bow. - In my opinion, this is one of the best albums to come out in 1997, with the exception of 2-3 songs. But considering that this is an all-instrumental album, this is a good rating. This CD makes me want to hear more of DJAM KARET. Recommended!
Review by loserboy
4 stars Another superb release on Cuneform records....DJAM KARET blend high energy with total sophistication, but never get too crazy. Fans of complex Prog will need to have this recording! "The Devouring" is definitely "guitar-centric" and offers superb musicianship.
Review by lor68
4 stars Well the track "The Myth of White Jesus" resumes all the best melodic music ideas within this interesting album!! Moreover some clever guitar solos, without such excesses typical of those guitar driven modern art rock bands, make this album quite original and remarkable as well. Anyway here you find some spare "CRIMSONesque" and "FLOYDian" references, a few ones, and such a "DJAM KARET trademark" as well, characterized by a special atmosphere, sometimes "ambient music-like", but it's never boring!! Besides a top-notch sound palette and their skill to perform some improvisational stuff too, complete the whole array of their modern music ideas. The powerful rhythmical section, sometimes reminding of that one by Don Caballero (in a less talented manner or without a particular virtuosity), is the right stuff. Nevertheless some other rhythmical parts are always balanced!! However I think of the opener track and the already mentioned "The Myth of White Jesus" as the best examples of their creativity!!

Recommended art rock stuff, probably the best one by DJAM KARET.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Some great guitar work and moody moments make "Devouring" a good choice for those seeking some smart, instrumental background music with a classic prog sound.

The album is solid throughout, with enough variety to keep things from getting too stale. Frequent textures and slow jams abound, with a few great, melodic guitar solos disperesed to keep things exciting.

The album is most hurt by its dated sound, which uses classic instrumentation with little experimentation amongst the players-- especially on keys, which sound hokey when not utilized for soundscapes.

A good instrumental for those seeking it, but don't expect anything too groundbreaking. "Devouring" spins its wheels in a sort of malaise and can't muster up the energy to compete with more interesting instrumental groups.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Blissful, emotional instrumental poetry. A knock-out.

The Devouring is a stellar instrumental prog rock album that is frequently compared to King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Ozric Tentacles. While I can hear those influences crop up this is not a clone band. They are more melodic than Crimson and often much more aggressive than Floyd. The rhythm section often reminds me of early Marillion although the songs do not. What you will find here are long and expressive instrumentals that sometimes have an epic feel to them. The speed of the songs vary and there are nice transitions and changes but they are natural and never artificially jerky or complex. The band doesn't need many gimics to grab your attention as they have the chops to please prog fans and the writing skills to keep most of you engaged.

For a little background on the band's name I turn to GEPR: "First, let's all get the pronunciation down pat: zhahm ka-RETTE. It's not DEE-jam Carrot. According to the band, Djam Karet is a Balinese phrase that means "the hour that stretches." However you pronounce the band's name, one thing is certain: Djam Karet has produced some of the most original American Progressive Rock." [this paragraph from Gibraltar]

Guitar sounds are broad and inventive with many levels of acoustic and electric textures. Rhythm guitar is tight but only occasionally harsh while lead solos can be dreamy and Gilmour-ish to downright piercing. Keyboards are about perfect for my tastes because they are primarily employed for creating background soundscapes and atmospheres rather than showing off technology. The sound quality of the album is also to my taste in that it isn't too harsh like some modern production, and the balance of the instruments in the mix allow everyone to be clearly heard.

"Night of the Mexican Goat Sucker" begins the festivities with a bang. This one is quite aggressive with riffing that borders on prog-metal although this is no prog-metal album. This is just one face of Djam Karet and why they are somewhat hard to compartmentalize. Heavy soloing wall to wall on top of these riffs will get your heart rate up.

"Forbidden by Rule" continues the heavy rock riffs out of the gate. The first half of this album is much heavier while the second half is slower and more dreamy. The guitar work throughout this track clearly enters space-rock territory and in parts remind me a little of Porcupine Tree. With PT vocals on this you could have an outtake from Deadwing.

"Lost but Not Forgotten" departs from the adrenaline of the opening two songs beginning with some smooth bass and keyboard work. The mood is serene and a little whimsical around 2 minutes in with some nice 70s sounding symphonic melodies. From here on it could almost be a Genesis track circa mid 70s. Very emotional lead guitars late in the song.

"Lights Over Roswell" features some very eerie violin textures which are really nice but the track lacks the focus and spark that the other have. The rhythm guitar here sounds a bit like the jangly Gilmour parts of "Run Like Hell" or "ABITW part 1."

"Myth of a White Jesus" features wonderfully far away sounding leads over clean electric chords for a gorgeous effect that just washes over you in waves, with no percussion. Sadly this is the shortest track, I could listen to the beautiful emotional guitar of this track for an hour and just drift away. Perfect (except too short.)

"The River of No Return" features ambient keyboards softly backing dreamy guitar leads until the 4 minutes mark when the bass and drums come in at a medium pace. They shuffle a bit while the guitars and keys trade off leads. At 6 minutes the rhythm changes and we go to a tabla style percussion with more calming keyboards.

"Room 40" is another 8 plus minute song starting with creepy faraway sounds until the band joins at about a minute in. The pace is slow here with a Floydian feel and lovely it is. Another one that will clearly please 70s symphonic fans. This song conjures images of gliding over canyons; it would be a perfect soundtrack for some kind of nature film.

"The Indian Problem" is a slow acoustic ambient background with flourishes of any and everything coming and going without much structure. Bass and percussion become lead instruments here while the guitar holds down what little frame the song has. Very nice.

"The Pinzler Method" is entirely a howling Adrian Belew-like guitar solo to a medium speed.

"Old Soldiers' Disease" is the longest track at 11 minutes. It is well constructed and I would describe this song as having a curious Neo-Prog genre feel to it. A very good closer that leaves you wanting more.

There are so many colors and interesting excursions here that you will never miss the vocals. This album is nothing short of fantastic and one of the most amazing CDs I own from the 90s. I just love it. 4.5 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars DJAM KARET are one of my favourite instrumental bands. I really like the way they combine the spacey laid back passages with the often guitar driven heavier sections.They use mellotron to amazing results on this record as well. I was reminded of PINK FLOYD on several occassions but these guys certainly have their own unique sound.

"Night Of the Mexican Goat Sucker" has a spacey intro before we get some aggressive guitar with drums. Great sound ! It gets heavier for a while as the drumming and bass really stand out and the guitarist lays down some ripping solos. "Forbidden By Rule" has some more fantastic bass and the mellotron sounds amazing. The song stops 2 minutes in and starts over. The atmospheric guitar 3 minutes in is scalding. What a soundscpape ! The mellotron floods back into the song before 5 1/2 minutes. "Lost, But Not Forgotten" opens with mellotron waves and it is all over this song. It sounds like clarinet that creates a nice warm sound. Some scorching guitar before 3 minutes. "Lights Over Roswell" has a title that just begs for spacey music and we get it early in the song. A Post-Rock feel to the guitars that follow. A FLOYD like rhythm with lots of bass comes into this song that also features violin and percussion. The guitar solo 6 minutes in smokes !

"Myth Of A White Jesus" is why I love this band so much. A beautiful, atmospheric sound from heaven that is so melodic. No words can do this song justice. "The River Of No Return" opens with waves of synths that give way to some aggressive guitar and spacey synths.This song is really three songs in one as the next section is completely different with drums leading the way and some good guitar. A synth and percussion melody closes out the remainder of this tune. "Room 40" opens with scary and eerie sounds before it changes to another one of those absolutely beautiful soundscapes with some fantastic soaring guitar after 6 minutes. "The Indian Problem" has some heavy drums that come and go as well as acoustic guitars that entertwine. "The Pinzler Method" is a mid paced guitar driven song. "Old Soldiers' Disease" features mellotron, synths, guitar, light drums and some tasteful bass lines. I like this one a lot.

Favourite songs for me are "Myth Of A White Jesus" and "Room 40". Great album !

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The US combo Djam Karet, being one of the most creative prog bands around, unsurprisingly has a number of great to excellent items in their résumé: "The Devouring" is one of their most outstanding gems. Generally speaking, this recording's line of work is like a confluence between the ethereal psychedelia of their sophomore effort "Reflections from the Firepool" and the explosive fireworks of "Burning the Hard City". The recording process was so intermittent that Henderson, one of the guitarists, could only perform on 4 tracks, leaving Ellett and bassist Osborne in charge of most of the guitar parts, despite this detail, this repertoire is full of pushing energy, many times taken to a compelling level. The rhythm tandem of Osborne and Oken, as always, serves as a rock of resistance and a versatile foundation for the instrumental travels, be them leaning toward the hardest side of prog or going for more texturial realms. 'Night of the Mexican Goat' y 'Forbidden by Rule', strategically placed as the first two numbers, reveal the prototypical Djam Karet symptom: a powerful musical source delivering relentless, punchy ideas in a well-ordained compenetration. The latter includes effective mellotron layers between the dual guitar excursions. And since we're talking about this progressive paradigm keyboard, let me tell you that it sets the opening passage of 'Lost, but Not Forgotten', a melancholic piece in which DK focuses on their melodic side further, without giving up on the aura of sophistication provided by the motif shifts and rhythm changes. The synth-dominated sections offer a clever counterpart to the sections led by the guitar solos (which set a kind of compromise between Metheny and Gilmour, go figure!). 'Lights over Roswell' kicks off in a cosmic mood until it derives into a speedier section partially influenced by 80's King Crimson. The intervention of guest violinist Judy garp proves crucial for the track's development. The cosmic thing is the general rule for 'Myth of a White Jesus', in which the keyboard layers and the guitar picking create a gray, autumnal atmosphere. Things continue to deepen into the ethereal side of prog in the log introductory section of 'The river of No Return' until the main motif shows a playful hook that momentarily shifts into the extroverted side of DK's ideology. A few second before minute 6, things take yet another dramatic turn into an ethnic-electronic section in which the bass guitar assumes a starring role with some Tony Levin-inspired phrases, craftily displaying themselves among the synthesizers' amalgam and guitar-synth layers. The combined programmed and human percussions set an exotic architecture in which the aforesaid dreamy sounds find a proper focus. 'Room 40' finds the band getting at their most Floydian, bringing the various motifs with enthusiasm and sensibility - the first half's central motif is retaken along the second half in a more complex fashion, thanks to the added role of keyboards that threaten to steal the limelight from the dual guitars. Such a great climax, indeed! The ethnic thing return with a vengeance in the eerie 'The Indian Problem', with featured acoustic guitar exorcising distant emotions and evocating thoughts over the rhythm pattern and the keyboard layers. The last two tracks deliver the typical DK robustness: 'The Pinzler Method' sets a marriage of early 90s Ozric Tentacles' dynamics and modern King Crimson's neurosis; 'The Soldier's Disease' is an 11-minute travel across the harder and the more languid sides of psychedelic tradition, once again including noticeable influences from classic Pink Floyd. Djam Karet is one of the undisputed points of reference for what's the best that progressive rock can still give to the music market nowadays - definitely, "The Devouring" serves as a very good evidence for this statement.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Djam Karet was founded in 1984 by guitarists Gayle Ellett and Mike Henderson, bassist Henry J. Osborne, and drummer Chuck Oken, Jr., all of whom remain in the band. They chose as the band's name an Indonesian word (pronounced 'jam care-RAY) that translates loosely as elastic time. [Djam Karet's official website]. Well, yeah, Indonesian who knows the name has never believed that the name of the band was taken from bad habit on not coming on time for an appointment. Indonesian used to translate it to English as "rubber time".

Anyway, let's talk about the music .

Those of you who like the jazz-rock fusion kind of music, you would find "The Devouring" by Djam Karet is an excellent album. The music combines heavy elements of progressive music using double guitars, dynamic bass guitar and energetic drumming. At first glance you might feel that this is a guitar-driven album. But if you look it deeper, you could find the tight and dynamic basslines played by Henry J. Osborne. There are songs composed with heavy elements and some of them in mellow style. The heavy side of the music reminds me to bands like Brand X, Dixie Dregs, Al Di Meola and Ozric Tentacles (without ambient psychedelic parts). The mellow style reminds me to Allan Holdsworth's stuffs using synthaxe.

One of the first impression I got the first time listening to this album was the opening track "Night Of The Mexican Goat Sucker" (7:04) which demonstrates Djam Karet's musical dynamics using blistering double guitar backed solidly by tight basslines. The first part of the song indicates great basslines as main rhythm section augmented by guitar riffs. It's really a cool opening track. Chuck Oken's drum work is also excellent. There are passages with syncopated style. The keyboard intersects nicely in between music passages, it's a resemblance of ELP basically. "Forbidden By Rule" (5:55) continues the same spirit like the opening track with its Crimsonesque mellotron sound at the opening part.

"Lost, But Not Forgotten" (7:45) brings to relax mood with great opening of organ solo followed with mellow style, using keyboard main melody line, switched to guitar on later passages. "Lights Over Roswell" (6:44) brings the music in mellow style demonstrating excellent bass solo. The music moves up into upbeat music with bass guitar as main rhythm section. "Myth Of A White Jesus" (4:19) is a mellow track with excellent keyboard exploration and sound effects that are intertwined by guitars. It reminds me to the music of Allan Holdsworth using his synthaxe. But it also reminds me to King Crimson's "Three of a Perfect Pair" album in its style of music. The first half of "The River Of No Return" (8:47) continues the previous track style: exploration of keyboard. But in the middle of the track it moves up with stunning guitar solo.

You might consider "Room 40" (8:36) is a Floydian style as the song moves beautifully in relatively slow tempo with Gilmourian guitar work. "The Indian Problem" (5:30) is an ambient acoustic guitar improvisations followed by bass guitar solo work. The music is like Ozric Tentacles. "The Pinzler Method" (4:48) explores guitar solo in long sustain fashion followed by those played tightly as the music moves along. It's really a great guitar exploration song! I love it. "Old Soldiers' Disease" (11:04) concludes the album with good combination of keyboard and mellotron sounds followed by stunning guitar solo.

Overall, this is truly an excellent album especially in music compositions and most importantly on guitar and keyboard improvisations. Highly recommended! 4.5 stars. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Djam Karet are an instrumental band from California, formed in the mid-1980s. They take their name from an Indonesian term loosely translated as "elastic time." This was the band's first album for Cuneiform records. I heard this years ago but recently had a chance to listen to it again about 5-7 times before typing this review. On this album at least, there is a strong Pink Floyd and King Crimson influence, from both the '70s and '80s. DK's sound is often split betwwen a more rocking side and a more ambient side. The Devouring fits mostly in the former.

Some of the song titles here are pretty good. "Night Of The Mexican Goat Sucker" starts out almost blues-rock with atmospheric keyboards. Nice riff during this part. Changes to a different riff, now with organ doubling. Changing again with slap bass and soaring, harmonized guitars. Nice synth playing here and there. "Forbidden By Rule" has lots of start/stop dynamics and some Mellotron. Later harmonized guitars as the tempo slows down. Music stops briefly, then a different section with repeated guitar lines. The bass here reminds me of '80s Zappa. Then a guitar solo. Drumming gets more varied and interesting with some synth squiggles. Goes back to the slower tempoed part, now with some nice chorused guitar and Mellotron.

"Lost, But Not Forgotten" is a highlight. It opens with symphonic Mellotron and jazzy organ. Then the rhythm section plays a mid-tempo groove while the guitar sounds like a cross between a harmonica and a saxophone. Drums stop and some cool synth sounds. Returns to the groove but it is now slightly faster. Later atmospheric keyboards and David Gilmour style guitar. Then some great organ, drums and bass come in sounding almost like Santana; especially when the percussion gets added. Song mellows out at the end. "Myth Of A White Jesus" sounds like a cross between David Gilmour solo and Robert Fripp solo.

"The River Of No Return" opens with atmospheric and spacey synth sounds. You briefly hear a woman talking. Then some Fripp style guitar. Almost halfway changes to an almost New Wave sounding part. The drumming gets more interesting. Later some congas or something along with keyboards and melodic bass playing. "The Pinzler Method" sounds like Fripp & Eno at first, then the bass and drums come in and it sounds like Peter Gabriel's "Exposure." That song of course was produced by Fripp, who also played on it.

"Old Soldier's Disease" starts out almost like '80s Floyd. Then switches to an almost waltz style with great Mellotron and synth playing. Then some organ. Just overdubbed Mellotrons for awhile. Bass and drums come back and then harmonized guitar. A bass solo. Later on another bass solo. Then a guitar solo. About halfway starts the best part with a repeated guitar figure and fast hi-hat. Tempo slows down and another guitar solo. This track is another highlight.

This being the only album I've heard from Djam Karet, I'm quite impressed. They don't win any points for originality, but make great use of their influences. Great instrumental prog music. Highly recommended to those who enjoy other guitar and keyboard based instrumental rock groups. I will give this 4 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Djam Karet has been around since the late 80's, conceived in a period of psychedelic rock rebirth that also spawned better-known bands such as Porcupine Tree and Ozric Tentacles. Fans of the instrumental side of Porcupine Tree's 90s albums should definitely check this band out, and so should Tentacles heads that want something less bouncy for a change. However, contrary to most opinions I wouldn't recommend the "Devouring".

The album is one of the longest and most varied in DK's career and it gives an ample demonstration of what this band is all about, and that's mixing King Crimson guitar parts with a Floydian spaceyness, lots of jamming, ambient experimentations. My disagreement with this albums comes from the band's attempt to focus on composition rather then freely flowing improvisations. It all starts very well with "Night of the Mexican Goat Sucker" and "Forbidden by Rule", also ambient pieces such as "Myth of a White Jesus" are up to their usual standard. However, it generally sounds as if the band wanted to do an instrumental symphonic prog album, which is IMO not their strength. It results in rather fluffy and cheesy material such as "Lost but not Forgotten", "The River of No Return", "Room 40" and "Old Soldier's Disease". Also the use of cliché bee-buzzing prog synths is very prominent on this material. Not a good thing.

I can imagine this album could be a good introduction to Djam Karet for symphonic prog oriented listeners. After all it's very diverse, light-hearted, well-played and dynamic. But I simply don't like it much, actually it's the only Djam Karet album I'm not much enthused about. I would rather recommend "Burning The Hard City", "Suspension & Displacement", "NDA" or "Heavy Soul Sessions". 5/10

Review by Warthur
3 stars Perhaps the reason Suspension and Displacement is my favourite Djam Karet album is that whilst I like what they do on the ambient transitions and intros on their albums - such as the opening of Night of the Mexican Goat-Sucker on this album - the Crimsonian guitar jams which actually make up the bulk of their music on their usual albums leave me rather cold. It's technically impressive stuff and if you're really fond of instrumental guitar jams with a prog sensitivity it's worth giving it a go - you might enjoy it more than me - but I wouldn't say it particularly cries out for wider attention or acclaim.

Latest members reviews

4 stars First CD I own by this band of long career (first album released in 1982), that hasn't got the recognition they deserve. I decided to start by The Devouring, considered to be one of their best albums. As some reviews said before, they do not centre in just one style, and mix Atomspheric and Elec ... (read more)

Report this review (#151780) | Posted by Barla | Monday, November 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Djam Karet is most known for their early albums: Reflections from the Firepool, Burning the Hard City and Suspension & Displacement. I have a feeling that the other albums are often overlooked, while they equally great and diverse. Before the Devouring, I'd heard Reflectuions from the Firepoo ... (read more)

Report this review (#68421) | Posted by thefalafelking | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Djam Karet (if anyone can phonetically give the pronunciation of this i would appreciate it) are a musical genre all of their own. The nearest i can liken them to is King Crimson meets Pink Floyd meets The Ozrics but this is only for small elements from those bands and they don't really sound like ... (read more)

Report this review (#5427) | Posted by Jools | Tuesday, March 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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