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Djam Karet picture
Djam Karet biography
Founded in California, USA in 1984 - Still active as of 2019

One of the first new prog bands to emerge on the 80's and 90's scene. The music is hard to categorize, switching among many different moods and styles, sometimes with psychedelic influences. Long improvisations, and main influences are OZRIC TENTACLES and KING CRIMSON.

"The Devouring" and "Burning The Hard City" are considered by many to be one of the best prog albums released in the 90s. DJAM KARET have taken their trademark sound of blistering guitar solos, atmospheric passages, and instrumental prowess and added old school prog rock keyboards. The resultant music is a great delight for the guitar fan as well as the adventurous rock listener.

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DJAM KARET discography

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DJAM KARET top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.80 | 5 ratings
Happy Cancer: McMusic For The McMasses
1.77 | 16 ratings
No Commercial Potential
3.38 | 27 ratings
The Ritual Continues
3.00 | 8 ratings
Kafka's Breakfast
3.73 | 65 ratings
Reflections From The Firepool
3.67 | 62 ratings
Burning The Hard City
3.21 | 41 ratings
Suspension & Displacement
2.78 | 27 ratings
3.66 | 83 ratings
The Devouring
3.67 | 26 ratings
Still No Commercial Potential
3.44 | 42 ratings
New Dark Age
3.12 | 24 ratings
Ascension - New Dark Age, Volume 2
3.27 | 53 ratings
A Night For Baku
3.72 | 56 ratings
Recollection Harvest
3.95 | 71 ratings
The Heavy Soul Sessions
3.89 | 109 ratings
The Trip
3.86 | 113 ratings
Regenerator 3017
3.82 | 60 ratings
Sonic Celluloid
3.95 | 49 ratings
A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof
4.60 | 5 ratings
Island in the Red Night Sky

DJAM KARET Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 13 ratings
Live At Orion
4.00 | 6 ratings
Afghan (Live At The Knitting Factory)
3.88 | 8 ratings
Live At NEARfest 2001

DJAM KARET Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DJAM KARET Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
A Beginner's Guide Volume 1
4.33 | 3 ratings
A Beginner's Guide Volume II
3.27 | 14 ratings
No Commercial Potential, Rock Improvisations from 1985-2002
4.39 | 13 ratings
Swamp Of Dreams

DJAM KARET Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 5 ratings
Djam Karet #1
4.00 | 6 ratings
Djam Karet #2


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Heavy Soul Sessions by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.95 | 71 ratings

The Heavy Soul Sessions
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The attractive album title suggests that there might be a rework or a different version of existing music and that's right, Djam Karet decided to re-record a couple of tracks plus one cover in a slightly more retro and introspective manner. Keyboards encounter the greatest change and go back to the omnipresent mellotron, sometimes organ and occasionally synths. Music intensity is restrained, guitar gets more psychedelic than usual on a DK album. The first track comes of "A night in Baku" and is the most dynamic track here with great playing by all musicians including bass and drums, it grooves strongly. The only weak track is the lengthy (considering its contents) "Consider figure three" with almost no development and sounding messy. "Dedicated to KC" is a cover track and is handled decently but not particularly strong as a composition. "The gypsy and the hegemon" is my favourite choice here maybe also because I haven't heard this track before. I like it's lyricism, melancholy and solo mellotron moments. It has decen't synth solo and atmosphere. 4 stars for playing and solid music but goes down to 3 stars as there is no new material here.
 Swamp Of Dreams by DJAM KARET album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.39 | 13 ratings

Swamp Of Dreams
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What a great idea for this band to kind of tie a bow on the songs they have contributed to over the years to various compilations and specialty projects. Six tracks over 44 minutes with the first three from the mid 00's and the last two from 1990 while track four is 2001. I am actually familiar with one of these songs "Shattering Sky" from that "After The Storm" release which benefited victims of hurricane Katrina. That's one of the best comps I own as the bands who contributed gave their best that they could have used on their own albums.

So let's start there with "Shattering Sky" maybe my third favourite song on here. The electronics are surprising I mean we get these sequencers on cruise control with organ and guitar helping out then it becomes majestic sounding before 3 minutes and that will come and go as the bass and drums join in. The bass is great! The guitar solos over top after 5 minutes. My two favourites include the opener "Voodoo Chases The Muse" which simply grooves and the title track. I really like that opener with the mellotron, cool percussion sounds, synths and guitar but then it turns electronic on us after 3 minutes as we get a complete change. After 5 1/2 minutes we get piano joining the spacey synths but there's so many intricate sounds and stuff going on here.

The closer "Swamp Of Dreams" opens in a spacey way with synths and more. Headphone music. At 2 1/2 minutes it kicks in with some killer bass, I mean this is incredible sounding. Guitar joins in also sounding really good. Drums follow then synths start to pulse over top. What a song! Tracks three to five are so interesting with those field recordings in play with water sounds, horses, cats and much more.

A very interesting release from DJAM KARET and being a fan boy it was a no brainer to pick this one up.

 Regenerator 3017 by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.86 | 113 ratings

Regenerator 3017
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I remember the frustration in the second half of the 00's at how low the albums for this band were rated on this site, same with THE PINEAPPLE THIEF. Certain reviewers went out of their way I felt to go a lot lower with their ratings than I felt was acceptable. That's a long time ago and I have since learned we all have our different tastes so who cares if you rate my favourites at 2 stars or whatever because I've done the very same with certain bands I just can't get into. I am such a big fan of this band from California who early on were often described as a PINK FLOYD/KING CRIMSON cross which is over simplifying it but it helps I suppose.

Man I just checked and I have 13 of their studio albums along with a compilation album of rarities. I think "The Heavy Soul Sessions" is my all time favourite from them but they have rarely done anything sub par. This particular album is a bit of a departure for the band as they head into jazzy territories here but with the usual attention to detail. A five piece here with the usual instruments plus some field recordings and mellotron on five of the seven tunes.

That opener is a top two for me. Light and uptempo with intricate sounds to start and this section will be repeated later on as we get calms too in between. "Living In The Future Past" has some guest warr guitar on it. I like the start with the bass and drums as the electric piano comes and goes. Mellotron too and I really like when the guitar starts to solo. A mysterious beauty this one and the mellotron, guitar and electric piano shine. The other top two besides the opener for me is "Desert Varnish" which just sounds so good. I mean the keyboards and bass impress along with the guitar and it does become warm and melancholic. Mellotron flutes to open "Wind Pillow" as piano, bass and beats support. Guitar will start to solo then keys later. A couple of so so tracks follow before we get the excellent closer "On The Edge Of The Moon" which is the longest at 8 1/2 minutes.

This isn't one of their best in my opinion but worth the 4 stars. A lighter DJAM KARET for sure but I really have enjoyed spinning this one over the past week or more. Another impressive release from the boys. Hey if I look forward to playing the music I feel the band have succeeded.

 A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.95 | 49 ratings

A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by moshkito

5 stars A Sky Full Of Stars For A Roof

I remember one time, in an email with Gayle that we talked about music or something related to chord and changes. He said it was different for them, since they could start on A and end up on Z.

Not a whole lot needed to be said about their music after that. If you listen to almost anything they do, just when you expect something or other, it is not there, and something else lights up the visions and cinematic sights that the music offers. It will still have, on occasion, a few signs of the hard and heavy rock band, but the nice thing is that they are not "stuck" on the solo or the moment, and it helps propel the music to another visual segment that ... sometimes defies description, and this is the greatest part of the attraction for their music.

Be it, using an incredible load of instruments from everywhere except Mars and Pluto (I think!!!), the collages are incredible and really neat, and show the incredible feast of sumptuous sounds and continuity to make some very different images.

It would be too easy, to say that there are a lot of influences, and the two most obvious are the original guitar romping along and taking the music to a different place, not your usual formatted song that you listen to each and every day ... and then it's ... a sitar like sound instead of the guitar? Some say that a lot here sounds like this or that, but the continuity of it all is nothing but Djam Karet at its best and so far out, that it leaves a lot of music feeling not as strong as it can be or should be. It's hard to come out of listening to Djam Karet and feeling that something is missing. More often than not you wonder what next since you know that the next bit is not the same thing!

Adding to this, are the electronics, both electronic and digital that infuse the complete sound of the band, into a myriad of feelings, probably too difficult to describe ... what was that and wow?

"Beyond the Frontier" starts the album and right off the bat you get a feeling of the early Djam Karet and its start from sounds and strangeness. Immediately you get the feeling that you are about to have a lot of guitar driven material, only for it to develop into something else totally different and it is not the guitar that does the "solo" at the top! Gotta love it when non-conventional methods and sounds are what this is all about, instead of a song format.

There is slight discussion that is likely more confusing to many of us than helpful but we have to take the word for it. Chuck Oken says that this something that comes out of a dual process of things that are mixed live and improvised, and some things work and end up kept.

Chuck states: "In 2017/2018, Gayle reviewed a whole bunch of electronic pieces I had sent him and he lived with them over time and took x amount of them and combined and edited them into 7 tracks. These electronic pieces were composed of everything but the kitchen sink as I use a large array of both analog and digital keyboards and modular with a healthy dose of looping and processing. Those 7 tracks became the 1st layer of this project and are accurately reflected in Beyond The Long Twilight."

"Long Ride to Eden" is one special piece, that at times has me thinking that this is what someone like Tangerine Dream could have done with its loud sequencers and additives over it. But DK is not just about that, and instead set about making it quite an experience in the listening. Take the title away, and you are really hard pressed into thinking what it is that you feel and see. It is a really special trip on its own, and many times, more often than not, I want more and more. It is just that far out.

"West Coast"

Starting with the feeling and idea of shooting stars on a clear night, it starts as a really soft piece of music, I suppose that you could say that melodies drive this piece all the way through it, and it stands out as a part of the "shooting stars" in between it all. A very pretty piece of music, that is soft and gentle, and you kinda want to dance to it, the type of feeling you want to have when you want something far out to last all night. Special, and non-stop!

" A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof" I may be nuts, but if there is something I always look forward to, is the any long piece of music that this band offers so many times. They are always unique and drive your mind to many places and are always very satisfying.

This piece, is the special one, and I will use Chuck Oken's words. " ... The release is a combination of the 2 layers. You could start the 2 CD's (Layer 1 & 2) on 2 separate players and Tracks 1 - 7 should line up to be the release. This was discovered during some very long artistic discussions between Gayle and myself about this project. One thing led to another and then we were doing a mix of the release without the electronics and then we did a mix of the release with just the electronics and by doing that the entire scope and vision of this project appeared. Two layer worlds combine in A Night Full Of Stars For A Roof bringing two very distinct pieces of music together."

I can only say that this piece is already slated for my night under the stars in a special place! It has a slight feeling of the early material that the band did, with the guitar sound in the background, a sort of scream from somewhere in nowhere land. But, in the end, this mix is a really special treat and experience. And you want to sit through it the whole time, and when it ends ... I want more ... not sure about you! From the electric guitar to the acoustic guitar to the electronic feeling in between that hardly feels like it, this is what this band is capable of. A special sound that defies description, because it is not one thing or the other. It is BOTH. And the musicianship is, to my ear, really well thought out and special. It's like there is nothing wrong or out of place. The stars are all there. You hear the birds here and there, and then a frog way out there somewhere, or a loud car/truck drives by, but in the end, it is a non- stop image and trip along the specter of life. Totally special and so well put together, that it is difficult to think of this as "music". For me, it feels like the inner sound of a part of my world that has way too many things in it, but somehow many of them come up and shine now and then. This piece, even without its title, is that for me.

"Dust In the Sun" "On The Third Day Arrived the Crow" "Specter of Twilight" "Night Falls"

Unlike the previous 4 pieces that start the album, these feel a bit more like a small song that was left over from some of the materials and their dual recording techniques as mentioned above. They are very melodic and pretty, and for my tastes not as "trippy", but no less attractive than the other pieces, and the special kudos goes to the last piece in the album, a wonderful close to this incredible experiment and experience that we know as Djam Karet.

A very special feeling.

A very special band.

Gayle Ellett Henry J. Osborne Mike Henderson Chuck Oken Jr

With guests: Shannon Michael Terry Todd Montgomery Mike Murray Micah Nelson Mark Cook

Note: Statements from Chuck Oken, Jr. were taken from their website.

 A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.95 | 49 ratings

A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Veteran US band DJAM KARET has been exploring the realm of progressive rock in their particular manner for close to 40 years at this point, with more than two dozen releases to their name all and sundry. "A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof" is their 19th studio album, and was self-released in 2019.

Djam Karet is a band that everyone should lend an ear at some point, if for no other reasons than to hear what consummate professional veterans do when they use their long experience as recording artists to craft a new album. Other than that, those who are fond of dream-laden, calm and serene instrumental progressive rock with world music and ambient elements explored in a subtly cosmic oriented context would be my description of the perfect audience for this album. Or, possibly, those who tend to enjoy a band like Ozric Tentacles in their calmer and more careful moments.

 A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.95 | 49 ratings

A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars You may notice the universal and the particular:

It's a thing of beauty in this the nineteenth full-length album, from DJAM KARET, the "Greatest Undiscovered American Band".

In this, the 35?year anniversary of the band.

In this, the multi-layered, complex, lovely- dare I say it, spiritual? examination/meditation upon the quotidian-to-the- eternal which humans sometimes laughably believe we can actually grasp.

Forgive me if I get too personal:

Because of the particular arc of my life and my musical journey, because of my own soul-sickness, because for a time I almost lost the music that teaches me more than anything else can, I was one of those who did not encounter DJAM KARET before this.

Nor did I for many years have, or take time to carefully listen to music- maybe an album in the background, or a sequence of songs on the 8-track, or cassette, or radio?those antique modes of listening you may or may not have encountered.

But it's one reason I review albums:

?since I am then honor-bound to carefully listen! to carefully experience, to give voice to what I'm hearing?since for me music IS particular and universal at the same time.

And in this case, "A Sky Full Of Stars For A Roof" touched many levels of response for me.

I pay homage to this creative collective, having some experience over the years with the fellowship of working within a band-setting. Having some experience with writing and collaborating- the energy, the joy, the grating frustrations, the demands of rehearsals and gigs, setting up and tearing down, living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sharing a room with other fellows in a small house, driving the endless miles and staying in the one-star motels?

I can't help but respect what original members guitarists Gayle Ellett and Mike Henderson, bassist Henry J. Osborne, and drummer Chuck Oken, Jr. have weathered, survived, encountered, and created over the years.

There is no shortage of ideas and musical richness:

I listen and I take notes. Again and again as I listened to "A Sky Full Of Stars For A Roof" I found myself using terms like " twinkling", or "shimmering", or "meditative", or "exquisite" or even, "a bed of whir".

The musical richness is for me due to the way the modern instrumentation is intermingled with the ancient and world instrumentation, like the cumbus or surmandel or bouzouki.

What does it say about a band, and about its members, who refuse to stay located in one place, who reach for broader brushes, who envision and hear strains and melodies and textures from many traditions and from around the globe?

Lots of Google searches (musical instruments from around the world):

Each of the exotic (to me) instruments has a history, a tradition, has a resonance in the cultures and times from which they emerged.

The twinkling, the shimmering, even the chittering of sounds, whether from field recordings or use of the Andean charango, or the synthesizer, the mbira or the mellotron, bring me into the presence of this richness, and somehow- perhaps because a friend recently posted on the absolutely dire conditions in which we presently find our planet due to the persistent recklessness of human consumption of resources- I found myself entranced, and yet wrapped in tragedy.

What we can today celebrate and in which we can rejoice- the diversity, the fecundity, the beauty, the mystery- perhaps all too soon, may be gone forever.

Not that the vastness of that "Roof of Stars" may even notice.

But I wanted to grasp as fully as I could within my own loves and limitations, what I am hearing.

What I am hearing:

The heartbeats of nimble imaginations meditating on rich, gentle, universal musicks.

One may refer to Pink Floyd here- with just that sweeping, guitar-led, synthesizer-laden passage, or to King Crimson there, or Happy the Man, or world music- and yet to be unable to fully communicate what a magical tapestry has been woven for us.

One might label this "psychedelic", or "progressive rock", or "Canterbury"?

There may be crickets chirping at moments, or dreamy awe produced by ripples of synthesizers, or an intuitive exuberance of drums and bass providing an underpinning to the music.

There might be a briefly edgy passage- especially in the album opener- which then moves in an entirely different direction.

The music evolves organically, develops, grows, then subsides.

It left me with a lump in my throat, an aura of joy and sadness and celebration and tragedy.

Like excellent music will do.

My hat is off to you, DJAM KARET:

I'm beyond glad I found you or you found me.

My rating: 4.5/5 simmering shimmers

 Collaborator by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.78 | 27 ratings

Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

3 stars If you like your ambient dark, this is the album for you. One look at the album and song titles is enough to tell the listener what is going on with the music. I like that - no mystery, no wasted thought.

This is actually the album that was my gateway to contemporary ambient music. It showed me that it could be cool - if heavy rockers like Djam Karet were into making this stuff I could be into listening to it. I do wish I was more familiar with Kit Watkins - his prog career started with so much potential, I can't help but wonder where his muse took him after shedding Happy the Man and Camel.

This one is certainly for ambient fans and hardcore Karet listeners that are up for a change of pace from their usual recordings.

 Sonic Celluloid by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 60 ratings

Sonic Celluloid
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

4 stars Another splendid entry into the Djam Karet catalogue. Spacey and melodic, the textures are on the light side for these guys. Continuity and evolution are two words that describe this collective that have been making consistently high quality product since the eighties. This isn't product in the Frank Zappa sense, referring to the big label music factories prevalent in his time. No, this is to be digested by guitar loving, atmosphere craving rock and roll adventurers. This is art - any skill raised to a very high level, maybe the only thing I remember from college.

Sonic Celluloid is easily one of my favorite Djam Karet releases, on any given day it could be this one or eight or nine different ones. Still, I tune in for the atmospheres, not necessarily the guitar, and this release is one of the most satisfying as a whole for my tastes. I was tempted to go five, but that would be in my world. This is no overall masterpiece, just a solidly entertaining listen for inclined parties.

 Sonic Celluloid by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 60 ratings

Sonic Celluloid
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Tapfret
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Context is everything. Timing is everything. OK, they can't both be everything. Let's say, one means a lot and the other is everything else. These cliches really came into play when discovering Djam Karet's eighteenth studio album, Sonic Celluloid. As it turns out, this would be my first full dive into a Djam Karet album. I was aware of their existence back in the late '90's when I first delved into the catalog of Wayside Music/Cuneiform Records. The sound did not sit well with me then, or in later happenstance listenings. Admittedly, this is probably because at the time I sought out the very heavy or the very complex at every turn. Djam Karet has never been either of those. In fact, when Sonic Celluloid first hit my ears I was inundating my brain with the artists featured in a Progarchives forum ultra-complex prog discussion. For some reason Sonic Celluloid was the right thing at the right time.

As prefaced, this is not an 'in your face' album. Its an album that invites you in and embraces your presence with astounding subtlety. First off, except for a few spoken word sections, the album is entirely instrumental. Rhythmically less than half of the album that uses a standard rock kit and beats. And where it is present, it does not shy away from the groove. However, large sections of Sonic Celluloid have a spacey, new age feel. But that space is never filler. It is always present and engaging. Much of the ambiance is very reminiscent of Tangerine Dream of the mid-1970's, if a bit more compositionally active and nowhere near as protracted. The electronic textures are complimented by acoustic instruments and the occasional Gilmour-esque warm electric guitar solos. And of course the Prog staple Mellotron is present, though again, subtlety is the key word. All too often it is used to excess in modern Prog. It is used on Sonic Celluloid to produce texture as it was intended.

I suppose there are those that will argue that Sonic Celluloid offers nothing new under the sun, and they are probably right. But what cannot be argued is that this is an album that is diverse and exists in full comfort of that diversity. And at the same time never takes that diversity to extremes. To risk overusing the chief descriptor here, subtle. It is that precise characteristic with the current context and timing of my own listening journey that makes Sonic Celluloid one of my favorite albums of 2017 and an easy recommendation as an essential part of any Progressive rock collection. Not to mention grounds for further exploration of the remaining Djam Karet discography that I have managed to ignore all these years.

 Sonic Celluloid by DJAM KARET album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.82 | 60 ratings

Sonic Celluloid
Djam Karet Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Psych rock, space rock, jam/improv, electronic, prog-rock, ambient - American group Djam Karet can be all of these things (often in the space of a single track!), but those tags don't quite do this eclectic instrumental band enough justice! The last few years in particular have been a very fruitful period for core members Gayle Ellett, Mike Henderson, Henry J Osborne and Chuck Oken Jnr and others with a number of standout releases, including the single forty-seven minute ambient space-rock journey `The Trip' in 2013, the retro-tastic `Regenerator 3017' a year later and a superior compilation of odds n' ends `Swamp of Dreams' after that, but `Sonic Celluloid' is their first proper studio disc in three years, and it proves to be another diverse and unpredictable collection from the talented instrumentalists, and one that's a lot more electronic-heavy than their last few.

After a moody ambient intro, `Saul Says So' springs to life with eerie Mellotron, coursing bass and trickling electronics, and some ravishing acoustic guitar flourishes are almost joyful and infectious even! There's nicely slinking programmed electronic grooves and chilled guitar licks throughout `Forced Perspective', `Long Shot' is a spacey wavering prog-electronic theme that sounds like the soundtrack to an eerie Seventies sci-fi series before its frantic Hammond organ and scorching electric guitar climax. The mix of drifting synth washes, haunting 'Tron and darker acoustic guitar in the final minutes of `No Narration Needed' might have come from Italian prog-rockers Goblin, and the bleeding and twitching deep-space electronics of `Numerous Mechanical Circles' could almost be Tangerine Dream, with tasty little teases of heroic Mellotron themes emerging as well.

`Oceanside Exterior', `Au Revoir Au RÍve' and `Flashback' are all moodier and atmospheric spacy electronic rockers with reflective guitar soloing spots that call to mind Pink Floyd and Nineties onwards-era Hawkwind, with plenty of spectral synth choirs, Mellotron fire and ticking programming between them. Piano dreaminess and reaching drowsy guitars strains purr through the toasty-mellow `Lower', and the sublime murmuring bass soloing and acoustic/electric back-and-forth of album closer `The Denouement Device' takes a darker, more mysterious turn in the second half making for a very unpredictable finale to the disc.

With plenty of releases in their thirty-plus year career together and never delivering even a slightly average one (ha, you've know they're a great band when even their compilations are superb!), `Sonic Celluloid' keeps up the strong tradition, proving to have quite a liveliness and no shortage of laid-back vibes. Exciting for long-time fans of the group and even an ideal starting point for newcomers, `Sonic Celluloid' just might even be one of Djam Karet's best to date!

Four stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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