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Djam Karet - Swamp Of Dreams CD (album) cover

SWAMP OF DREAMS

Djam Karet

Eclectic Prog


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Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An excellent compilation of compilations.

All the assembled tracks, recorded from 2006 back to 1990, are arranged in reverse chronological order and nicely work together to feel like an original album.

One of the songs was actually from a compilation that I already had - Dali: The Endless Enigma. Every artist did a musical impression of a painting. They picked Inventions Of The Monsters. I liked it and all the other musician's aural paintings. Djam Karet were unknowns to me then later I encountered A Night For Baku and instantly became a die hard fan. But for those who are familiar with Dali paintings, some are small yet complex. DK takes you along on a on a journey through the painting. The rest of the tracks are also as inspired...

It may just my imagination but hearing their impression of Monsters in FLAC format and pulling up an image of the painting on screen has intensified the experience for me. I would highly recommend listening to this album in that format, though in CD and even in my standard more portable format, WMA, it's not too shabby.

Since I don't have any of the other compilation albums that they have been on I have no other tracks I can compare to Gayle Ellett's remastering enhancements to the prior versions, but Inventions Of The Monsters is certainly improved.

4.5 and rounding up as this is certainly an album that will stand the test of time.

Report this review (#1486872)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2015 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars For over thirty years now, Californian band Djam Karet have been offering an eclectic variety of instrumental prog rock, covering every style from psychedelic, electronic, ambient, space music and even blues, frequently in the form of completely improvised jamming performances. With a string of superb releases in their back catalogue, and their two most recent works (the spacerock/electronic-infused `The Trip' and the retro flavours of `Regenerator 3017') being especially wonderful, the group have decided to release a vinyl-length stop-gap compilation, `Swamp of Dreams', bringing together assorted rarer stand-alone pieces taken from a range of unrelated compilations spanning the years 1990 to 2006.

`Voodoo Chases The Muse' opens the disc with gutsy slow-burn bluesy snaking electric guitar over liquefied Ozric Tentacles-like gurgling synths, with playful jazzy licks and funky bass sauntering throughout. `The Shattering Sky' presents atmospheric Tangerine Dream-like electronic ticking ambience and droning King Crimson-flecked guitar notes behind brooding heavy Mellotron choirs and bass purring wickedly along the backdrop, but the abrupt quickie fade-out that comes out of nowhere mid-guitar solo is heartbreaking!

Electronic washes and calming acoustic guitar ruminations blend with tribal percussion and a heavy beat that builds in urgency throughout `Pentimento' as strangled Crimson-esque guitar distortion grinds away, and the twitching electronic violations and ebbing/humming drifts in the manner of the early Klaus Schulze works of `New Light on the Dark Age' twist together with tribal- like beats, mangled guitar and an addictive repeated whirring synth theme.

The haunting and dream-like `Inventions of the Monsters' is a crystalline drone that is both ethereal and eerie, and oddly, with its pristine icy synths, buoyant bass and up-tempo drive, the heroic and symphonic title-track closer `Swamp of Dreams' quickly reminds of the Neo Prog bands and could have easily come off almost any early IQ album!

Despite all the scattered tracks originating from over a sixteen-year period, there's still a strong flow that ensures the 44 minute CD works perfectly as a stand-alone album, and while the above mentioned `The Trip' and `Regenerator 3017' stand taller in their discography, `Swamp of Dreams' is simply a great collection of cool instrumental pieces with great playing from a talented group! An easy high recommendation for instrumental prog lovers, let's hope for a second volume of these sort of collected pieces from Djam Karet in the near future!

Four stars.

Report this review (#1587268)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is music only the abstracted brilliance of Djam Karet could give birth to. The greatest band that nobody has ever heard of ! Swamp of Dreams contains 6 titles have been dredged up and reworked from various one off contributions that appeared on anthologies and benevolent albums between 1990 & 2006. They have been cleverly presented in reverse chronological order which is a real treat for hard core followers like myself. Dark, vaporous and menacing sequenced rhythmical effects drive each piece with boundless intensity. A multitude of styles and devices are employed and melded together into something that has some semblance of congruity and it is hard to believe that they were all conceived over a 16 year time span. The whole album is characterized by flawless production, superb musicianship and technical prowess.

The opening track, Voodoo Chases The Muse is anchored by a pulsating, regurgitating synth template. A groovy psychedelic guitar riff plays on as if the wah wah pedal was just discovered. Jimi Hendrix meets Tangerine Dream. It then reinvents itself into something more frightening and conflagrated in some bizarre time signature that only aliens can figure out with Moogs and Fender Rhodes going maniac. The Shattering Sky appeared in original form on a humanitarian CD to raise money for victims of Hurricaine Katrina which devastated New Orleans back in the summer of 2005. The sky actually sounds like it's going to fall at the onset as the piece proceeds to work itself into a furious rage with frantic jazz bass and thundering synth barrages and fuzz guitar getting into a real cool groove that unfortunately ends too soon.. I actually googled the meaning of the title of the third track, Pentimento, and came up with two different results and tried to associate them with this psychotic piece. It commences with phantasmagoric spacey atmospheres and then transmogrifies into a manic guitar inferno with globs of plodding tonal wreckage. New Light On The Dark Age and the title track are more coherent and fluid pieces and for the most part are free of all the sonic havoc that has to be dealt with on the other pieces. Inventions of the Monsters is my favourite track. An alternate auditory interpretation of creation possibly influenced by Dali's surreal painting from the 1930's. Grotesque cat, dog and horse sounds can be heard amidst shifting sound walls and spooky tubular bell-like progressions. The whole thing seems to be gradually closing in on the listener in slow motion. Far out terrifying stuff.

I'm unaware of how the pieces that constitute Swamp of Dreams sounded in their initial forms but what has been done here is simply eye watering. A must listen for anyone who wants to grow up to be a synthesizer. Five outa this world stars.

Report this review (#1699193)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2017 | Review Permalink

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