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Djam Karet - Recollection Harvest CD (album) cover

RECOLLECTION HARVEST

Djam Karet

 

Eclectic Prog

3.71 | 55 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Djam Karet's "Recollection Harvest" was my 2005 favorite prog album, and looking back at it with no anger at all, my feelings and ideas regarding this album are confirmed and reassured. The DK people have given birth to some of the most exciting and intense prog music of the last 20 years, and "Recollection Harvest" should be accountable as one of their masterpieces. This album is designed as two in one, with tracks 1-5 (individually titled after the whole album) marking the more progressive side, and the remaining ones (grouped under the general title "Indian Summer") consisting of predominantly atmospheric ideas developed in a more concise fashion. This doesn't mean that the repertoire as a whole is dual, since it comprises a clever unity regarding sound and spirit. The first half, while evidently rockier, elaborates an enigmatic vibe, due to the cleverly moderate use of the rocking possibilities of guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. Once again, we find Aaron Kenyon featured in most tracks, while Henry Osborne only appears on a couple of numbers. 'The March to the Sea of Tranquility' kicks off the album with a deceitfully languid mood, which is really a disguise of equilibrated density for a slightly disturbing but mostly mysterious showcase for somber ambiences. The guitar phrases, acoustic guitar chord progressions and eerie keyboard layers (with a dominant mellotron) provide a distinct Djam Karet-ish sense of distinction. More upbeat is the following track 'Dr. Money', whose prog-jazzy structure provides a very dynamic foundation for the exciting marriage of Canterburish rhythm section, Bardens-like keyboards and Crimsonian guitar leads. The mood shifts toward a more patently serene stage with the contemplative interlude, before things return to the initial atmosphere for the coda. The sustained slide guitar sounds really sound weird, although in a constrained fashion, very accord to the track's overall feel. This is a perfect example of how you can approach retro-prog without really sounding retro - a highlight of the album, indeed. 'The Packing House' kind of returns to the dense mystery of track 1, albeit with a stronger dose of intensity: the guitar flows (either e-bow or slide, I'm not sure) are ballsier, while the Moog leads feel more oppressive. For the second half, the track does an unnoticed transition to a soft funk-oriented bridge, linking the progression into the third section, built under the mixture of jazz-rock cadences and cosmic-rock ambiences portrayed by guitars and keyboards, always with a constrained energy. The track's closure finds embraces the reprised funky bridge with an unhidden Floydian acttitude. Dreamy with a slight, permanent dark twist, this is how I would describe this amazing piece. 'The Gypsy and the Hegemon' is another absolute highlight, an example of DK's prog-oriented musical complexity at its best. After getting started with a 'Strawberry Fields'-like duet of mellotronic flute and bouzuki, the quartet gets into a delicate psychedelic jam displayed under a wisely constrained scheme, something like a marriage between jazz-prog and post-rock. Then comes the second half, an electrifying section, featuring underlying powerful bass phrases and manic synth leads that alternate the starring role. This track comprises what is arguably the best performance by Chuck Oken in the album. The title track closes down the album's first portion, starting with an exercise of sonic calmness, then shifting into a spacey-ethnic vibration where electronic input and acoustic sources are set in a marriage solidly built on human and processed percussions. The successive variations are managed with total fluidity: the hardest portions are typical showcases of DK's urgent facet. These guys really master the art of joining different motifs in an effective way, sometimes enhancing their similarities, other times building on their contrast - that's the most recurrent strategy for their most notable compositions. The last six pieces are less rocking and more atmospheric: they are ideas in the most literal sense of the word, instead of proper tracks. The title track is an exhibition of guitar and mellotron remnants floating over a synthesized synchronic amalgam: a weird mixture of electronic new-age and Heldon. 'The Great Plains of North Dakota' is the calmest piece of the album and this particular section, heavily based on acoustic stringed instruments and docile percussions. 'Open Roads' features a mesmeric Hawkwind-like synth layer that invades the track's exotic harmonic basis. 'Dark Oranges' is not loud but clearly disturbing, setting an unrest that seems to have been taken out of a scary dream - the mellotron choirs and the tortured lead guitar emphasize the mood. This track and 'Twilight in Ice Canyon' serve as points of connection between both sides of the album, and by the way, both comprise some of the rockiest guitar leads in the album. 'Requiem' closes down the album with a psychedelic manifestation of eternal sadness, portrayed by the moving guitar solo (a-la Gilmour-meets-Belew) and overwhelimingly mesmeric keyboard layers a-la Wright. DK has got a well-defined musical personality, and hence it is easy to detect album after album. Yet, they manage to always incorporate refreshing ideas, in this way, avoiding the ugliest traps of formulas. "Recollection Harvest", as I stated earlier in this review, is a prog masterpiece of our times.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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