Category Archives: Music

Silas

Silas & Friends Vol 1 

Silas & Friends Vol 2

Silas & Friends Vol 3

Ambient music can be difficult to get right. It needs to be of low intensity and provide a specific mood to space. My theory is that the best examples perform two functions. At low volume it doesn’t draw attention to itself but fulls a room with sound. At high volumes it reveals it’s detail of timbre, texture and polyphonic rhythms.

So finding a new artist is always enlightening. Cousin Silas is my latest find. On his own, the music tends towards monotone drones. But in collaboration with others comes the best results. These three albums represent his best work.

 

 

All India Spaceship

Dream On
Big Spaceship (2005)

Just when you think you have all the ‘All India Radio’ releases, you discover something new.

The band, formed by Martin Kennedy creates atmospheric chill/downbeat music. All India Radio’s music has featured in CSI: Miami, One Tree Hill, The Lying Game, Australia’s hit Bondi Rescue and the film The Rare Earth.

This album comes from 2005 and has a different feel to Martin’s other work. It’s a bit more up-beat and has a distinct 1980s feel to it. The songs have a more conventional structure of verse/chorus/verse. Most song have vocals (by Kennedy, Chloe Hall and Glenn Richards). The best part of the wonderful sounding drums and bass, this anchors the songs and has occasionally a swing beat that adds a slow-dance aspect. Also present in some songs is a saxophone that sounds a lot like it came from Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here”.

Recommended.

 

Jeffery

Jeff Beck
Jeff (2003)

Very similar to the previous “You Had it Coming”. Again Jeff does better than all those teenage guitar wannabes half his age. Some terrific rocking stuff here, combined with truly great “spacey” tracks.

Reviews:

Hi-energy guitar, October 3, 2003
Reviewer: kelly a chitwood (see more about me) from Camden, United States  ordered this for someone else, but had to listen. I love the techno bass and rhythm that accompanies Beck’s solid guitar solos. Very modern which makes me think that this will reach a wide variety of people. Very intense music, I imagine driving down the highway from the very start of “So what”. So fasten your seatbelts and hang on!!!

Again, the re-invention of Jeff Beck…, October 1, 2003
Reviewer: Thomas Quarles (see more about me) from Austin, Texas United States The same gut-grabbing guitarist that first caught my attention so long ago returns in his latest foray into melody, trance and technology. At fifty years old and I still love this man’s playing as much as I did at fifteen with “Truth”, at eighteen with “Rough and Ready” and at twenty-two with “Blow by Blow”. In the 1970’s I was fortunate to catch Jeff and John Mclaughlin on tour together. They, along with Robert Fripp are my three favorite guitarists of the past thirty or so years. I consider myself, and the music world, lucky indeed that Jeff Beck is as alive and vibrant as ever. I love this new CD. Techobeat, sampling, studio wizardry and all. Jeff Beck is as hard, delicate and melodic as he’s even been. More so, I think. (Apparently, he’s also been tearing it up on tour with drummer Terry Bozzio…)

 

Electric Castle

Ayreon
Into the Electric Castle (2001)

Another double CD space rock album from Arjen Lucassen. This is more mellower than “Star One” due to the acoustic guitars.

Reviewed by: courtesy Larry Daglieri
The long awaited disc from brainchild Arjen Anthony Lucassen is finally here. To those who don’t know Arjen, I consider him to be one of the best songwriters ever to grace progressive music, or any music for that matter. I consider Arjen to be the”Steven Spielberg” of music; he takes visions and sets them to music like Spielberg does to movies. Essentially, what Arjen Lucassen gives us is a”musical movie”; not to be viewed, but to be heard. As a movie sweeps you away visually to lands and places far, far away in your mind, Ayreon brings us musically to those places, except that the vision is left up to the listener. It’s an extraordinary experience that every music lover should get to be part of at some time in their musical journey.

As a lover of concept discs, and I can freely admit that concept discs are my favorite discs of all time, and I give my full attention to these discs as they transport me to places I’ve only imagined from movies, but now I am given the chance to create my own vision of those places, having the music as a platform to get there. In addition, I feel that the song writing takes on a new meaning when you have to create discs like Queensryche’s Operation:Mindcrime, Eternity X’s The Edge, Ayreon’s The Final Experiment and the many more concept discs that grace my player on a weekly basis regardless of the age of the disc. It’s inspiring to hear songs that musicians write that wreak of genius, but it’s truly inspiring to “hear” a man’s vision throughout an entire disc through the creation of a storyline. That said, I want to go back to the Dark Ages, and how it all began.

In a phone call, many galaxies away, many moons ago, I asked a certain individual named Ken Golden to recommend something that would make me shudder like Operation:Mindcrime did. I wanted a concept disc, a disc that I would play forever, and something like I’d never heard before. This request alone is certainly not an easy one to fill, but within a couple of days, a disc called The Final Experiment by a band called Ayreon appeared on my doorstep. The opening narration alone told me that this was the band I’d been looking for to fulfill my conceptual needs. An over-the-top, keyboard driven, magical, mystical journey boasting orchestrations, 13 different singers, and a story-line right out of the Spielberg category of great themes, this disc has never left my player, and I consider it to one of the finest concept discs of all time. Somehow, this disc appeals to all facets of listeners; metal, rock, prog rock, prog metal, and others all seem to have something they can grasp onto in this dis c. With a cast of characters that would make Hollywood proud, this gem should be up on a stage, or made into a movie. I’ve had the screenplay written for it in my mind, but Arjen has already stated that it will not go any further than on disc, so I had to scrap that idea. At any rate, this is undoubtedly one of the best “rock operas” ever created, and I was transformed into an Ayreon worshiper instantly.

Soon after I had absorbed all I could out of this disc, and still playing it months after I had gotten it, Ayreon had released another disc called Actual Fantasy. Like many other people do when they get their hands on the ultimate masterpiece, they immediately want another one from their favorite band, and upon first listen of Actual Fantasy, I was convinced that this was no Final Experiment, and almost dismissed it because of this. I managed to put The Final Experiment down, and give Actual Fantasy the time it deserved. Little did I know, that I was going to love this disc as well, despite my initial reaction to it. To sum up this disc, it’s what I deem a”heavy metal Pink Floyd”.

If you take the spacey, dreamy music of Pink Floyd, add in Arjen’s creative juices and crunching guitar work, and add a touch of Beatles background harmony, (yes, I cringe too, but you will learn), throw in enough computerized sounds and keyboards, and you have Actual Fantasy. Still not my favorite Ayreon disc, but a must have for sure. I’ve learned that visions are never the same, and I quickly learned not to expect the same thing twice from a band, especially when it comes to the great Arjen Lucassen and Ayreon.

My Ayreon thrills continued when I first learned that Ayreon would be putting out a double-CD, another concept disc. I couldn’t imagine what this would mean, since The Final Experiment could never be topped in my mind. Here are my thoughts on this disc.

I’ve had it for weeks and weeks, and I haven’t had it long enough to totally immerse myself in it’s source of genius or meaning, but I don’t think I can get any more out of it unless I sat down with it daily for about 3 months with the booklet and played nothing else. So, up to now, this is what I am hearing:

THE STYLE

It’s Ayreon – and that is so easy to let stand on that statement. It’s a double-CD, a concept disc as promised, except that this time the disc comes billed as a”Space Opera”. What is a Space Opera ? Well, it’s a version of a Rock Opera, except that it’s set within a time or place that has no physical boundaries. You can’t put your finger or your mind on what or where it is, you just have to close your eyes and imagine for yourself what is actually going on. Again, Arjen Lucassen has left us with the opportunity to create a world within our own mind to visit, with the help of the music as a guide. The music covers many facets of styles; from prog rock, to hard rock, to acoustic, folk, Celtic, blues-rock, and many others. It’s a who’s who of styles, but I will say that the ingredient that is missing here that is present on the others is the”metal” feeling that the others seem to invoke. While there are some heavy parts on this disc, it’s more in a”rock” tradition than it is a metal, and anyone who is not ready to give up their bonecrunching, electric guitar and replace it with acoustic, spacy acoustic and softer electric guitars need not venture further.

It’s keyboard driven, and I can’t imagine how many different keyboards are used on this disc. In addition, the sounds are”spaced out”, meaning that they take on a computerized sound at times, and it’s hard to pinpoint just what instrument is being used. Most of the time, the keyboards are accompanied by acoustic, spacy guitars, and believe when I say, that you will be transported to the outer reaches of space and time, you will not be able to pinpoint where you are or when you are, just that you are here. It’s really the ultimate in audience participation.

With the aid of 9 singers this time, including the likes of Fish (Marillion), Damien Wilson (Threshold), Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering), and a host of others from past Ayreon projects, the story is presented like a play on stage, with each character taking his own part and bringing the story to us. You will need a dark room with a small lamp, a loud stereo, (or headphones cranked to the max), and this booklet Arjen calls a lyric sheet to get the most out of this disc. Please forgive any lack of other band comparisons here, because in no way, shape, or form does Ayreon sound like any other band. It’s always great to be able to give some bands as a basis for comparison, but when you have a mind like Lucassen, you don’t write songs that sound like anyone else. However, in the interest of those who have never heard Ayreon, or especially anything about this disc, the underlying sounds on Into the Electric Castle seem to bear at least a little resemblance to maybe some Marillion, Genesis, Pink Floyd, with the Ayreon sound leading the way. It’s what I call,”harder edged Neo-Progressive Rock meets Progressive Blues Rock”, and that is my personal creation of a new genre I can assure you.

Throughout the disc, you will be led by a narrator, who will guide you through the story, as you will be lost without him, never mind being lost while you’re with him. While you’re listening to his story, you’re anticipating the type of music that is going to follow, or you are focusing on the spacy sounds that accompany the narration. The disc follows NO particular pattern musically. One disc is not heavier than the other; one section contains no more acoustics than the other; one disc contains as much singing as the other; the disc is precisely laid out to spread out the wealth. Even my usual avoidance of lead female singers is put aside; yes, I can tolerate the female singers because it really enhances the story, and they are not singing in a metal format, which is my true problem with them. Prepare for more acoustic guitars than you can handle, more spaced out keyboards than you’ve ever heard, and even some Celtic tendencies along the way. I haven’t fully digested the lyrics, as it’s like reading a b ook. It cannot be called a lyric sheet and I will refer to “The Book” from here on in when I refer to the lyrics. For those of you interested in artwork, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I’d invest in a large version of the painting of the Electric Castle on the CD cover. “The Book” graces the inside of the double package, containing more lyrics than a Broadway play, and is easily read despite the tons of background colors used. If you love previous Ayreon, you will love this disc.

THE BAND:

With 9 different singers, 6 people contributing keyboards, violins, cellos, sitars, guitars, mandolines, mellotrons, flutes, massive amounts of synthesizers, bass and drums, there is really no need for me to go into what the band sounds like. Arjen Lucassen himself contributes all guitar work, mandolines, bass, and keyboards in additon to the talent he has surrounded himself with. The mention of the above instruments gives you an idea of what this disc is going to sound like.

THE PRODUCTION:

I thought that The Final Experiment sounded great, and I was told that it was recorded in a garage. Well, garage or not, the sound is incredible. Actual Fantasy sounded even better, and Arjen certainly wasn’t going to invest all of his creative time just to have some below average sound gracing his discs. Arjen himself produced and mixed most of the Ayreon discs, including this one. So after 2 discs, had Arjen mastered the mixing board as he has his music ? Without a doubt, this is one of the best recordings I’ve ever heard. I will not even go into what each of the instruments sounds like in the mix, as this recording is perfection. What I do notice that is different from the other recordings, is that the vocals are bit more clear this time out, and I imagine it must be tough to handle trying to mix 9-13 different singers, given their different styles and origins. This recording is nothing short of amazing, and how Arjen gets sound this good is a mystery, although I would imagine that t he budget this time around would be a bit more than in the past. Still, if Arjen is willing to share production thoughts, I’d be writing to him if I was a musician and asking “how the hell did you do that” ?

THE COMMENTS: Well, yeah, it’s a great disc. Everyone who wants to know about this disc has the same question:”how does it measure up to The Final Experiment”? It’s not that easy a question to answer. It’s definitely a preference. First, let me say this. It’s Ayreon. To me, that means no matter what it is, I’m buying it. There is no question as to what it is, what it sounds like, or is it better than other Ayreon discs. It’s a blind purchase all the way folks, and believe it or not, it costs less than most double-CD sets that come out in America. This one is from overseas and it costs less; and I’ll tell you,”you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply here. You get much more than you pay for with an Ayreon disc. It’s a standard of music. It’s a given that some of the best songwriting and musicianship in the world is going to be found on an Ayreon disc. Into the Electric Castle is no different; it’s simply brilliant.

Ok, so do I like it better than The Final Experiment ? No, actually I don’t. Given the two discs hand in hand, and asked to spend 1 whole month playing nothing but either of these discs, The Final Experiment will win out for me. Now, this is NOT to say that Into the Electric Castle is not a great disc. It is !!!! It is also entirely different in style than The Final Experiment. Musically, The Castle is certainly more adventurous and wild, but The Final Experiment has the perfect combination of guitars and keyboards in song structures that I find totally right for me. It’s also a bit heavier than ItEC. I will say that metal heads might have a tough time digesting this disc, more so that TFE. If you are flexible and listen to any style of music, then by all means grab this. As a matter of fact, anyone who listens to music in general will love this disc, except for people who will only listen to metal, and want it heavy and crunchy, and t hese are the only ones I would warn off this disc. Other than that, the disc is brilliant. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before, I guarentee it, but just be prepared to tone it down somewhat from previous Ayreon projects. This disc serves to prove that Arjen Lucassen is one of the most creative song writers the world has ever heard. The man has a mind that I’m sure Hollywood would envy, and it’s great to have a great mind like his to give us what we want in the musical world. Ayreon = brilliance in every sense of the word.

Label: Transmission (division of Double Dutch
Record Service BV) (Cat. No. TM-014)
Track Listing: Disc 1: Welcome to the new dimension (3:05) / Isis and Osiris (11:11) a) Let the journey begin, b) The hall of Isis and Osiris, c) Strange constellations / Amazing flight (10:15) a) Amazing flight in space, b) Stardance, c) Flying colours / Time beyond time (6:05) / The decision tree (we’re alive) (6:24) / Tunnel of light (4:05) / Across the rainbow bridge (6:20)

Disc 2: The garden of emotions (9:40) a) In the garden of emotions, b) Voices in the sky, c) The aggression factor / Valley of the queens (2:25) / The castle hall (5:49) / Tower of hope (4:54) / Cosmic fusion (7:27) a) I soar on the breeze, b) Death’s grunt, c) The passing of an eagle / The mirror maze (6:34) a) Inside the mirror maze b) Through the mirror / Evil devolution (6:31) / The two gates (6:28) / “Forever” of the stars (2:02) / Another time, another space (5:20) Total Time: 102:35

Musicians:
Arjen Lucassen – guitars, mandolin, bass,Minimoog,
Mellotron & keyboards
Roland Bakker – Hammonds
Jack Pisters – sitar
Robby Valentine – pianos, synth solos on IIa, IIIa
(disc 1) and IV (disc 2), mellotron on VIa (disc 2)
Ern” Olah – violins
Clive Nolan – synth solos on Vc (disc one)
Rene Merkelbach – synth solos on V (disc one) and
VII (disc 2), harpsichord on II (disc 2)
Tom Scherpenzeel – synth solos on Vc (disc 2)
Ed Warby – drums
Taco Kooistra – celli
Thijs van Leer – flute on IIIc, IV (disc 1) and II &
III (disc 2)
Fish, Damien Wilson, Sharon Den Adel, Anneke
van Giersbergen, Edwin Balogh, Arjen Lucassen,
Jay van Feggelen, and Edward Reeker – vocals

Website: www.ayreon.com

Japanese Music

The Kobe Municipal Choir
The Wadatsumi Drummers

Tues 20 August 1996 at 7:30 in the James Hay Theatre
(Part of the Festival of Japan)

The program started with a 45 minute song about the Kobe earthquake. This was prefaced with a brief video showing stills of the damage.

The choir is about 60 in number, with conductor and piano (player included).

The singing is technically good, however about half way through, the mind does wander. They used the projector to provide an English translation. Unfortunately this was marred by spelling mistakes. It also broke words over two lines. A bit more effort would have helped.

It occurred to me that it would have been better if they dispensed with the video introduction. Instead the photographs could have been used throughout the singing to illustrate the events that unfolded.

In contrast to the choir, the drummers were positively exuberant. They have been together since 1989, and their enjoyment of the music showed.

They used a large wooden drum, slightly smaller than a kettle drum. These had a wonderful reverberance, when all were played together they filled the James Hay theatre to amplified rock music volumes.

Their show started with a sole flute player.

The next piece set the tone of the rest of the show with colorful dancers and hypnotic rhythms.

During on piece, where two drummer fight over one drum, one of the drummers was pushed off the stage into the audience (to the amusement of the audience).

Also of note was a solo performance by a drummer with his drum mounted at head height. The energy put into the playing was reflected not only in the powerful sound, but in the movement of his whole body to pound the drum into submission.

The drums are struck with a solid stick with force, these players are fit people. Halfway through I was expecting someone to pierce a drum.

The encore piece was a rain dance, ironic since it was raining at the time.

The show ended with a few speeches and the company sang “Po kare kare ana”.

The Wadatsumi Drummers are not to be missed, but I could easily avoid the choir.

NB
21/8/96

Atomic Bitchwax

Atomic Bitchwax -II
(2000)

If you find a CD with a cover consisting of scantily clad girls, turbo-charged mustangs and skinny guys with long hair & guitars you may be able to assume this is rock music. You would be right and this trio of Ed Mundell (guitars), Chris Kosnik (bass) & Keith Ackerman (drums) make a lot of noise circa 1974 for three guys. Most reviews call this “stoner” rock. I’m not sure what this means, but to me it’s like an updated Deep Purple with minimal vocals.

From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
This is the 2nd studio CD by Ed Mundell from Monster Magnet. The CD picks up where the last one left off with the band going for a different sound for the guitars as Ed really changed gear this time around. Again, the CD is half instrumental and half with vocals but mostly in the 70’s acid jamming style. The production is very raw and nasty and Ed rips it up all over the place. The opening song Ice Pick Freek is a killer.

I still don’t care much for the vocals of Chris Kosnik, but the guitar riffs are a killer on this release and Ed sure shows that he can play some great guitar. Play The Game has a guest organ player but you hardly hear him. Warren Haynes from Gov’t Mule guests on the 4th track, Smokescreen, and plays some killer slide guitar. Ed told me that Warren was to play on two tracks but there was no time. The band seems to have a pretty constant approach to the songs with most songs starting with some heavy riffing, a little solo, vocals, small middle solo, and longer solos at the ends, sometimes fading out.

The Cloning Chamber is an excellent song with a great riff and organ line. Dishing out a heavy dose of tough love borrows a little bit of the riff rom Rock and Roll Hoochie Choo by Rick Derringer! Great song. Well, if you liked the first one, you will love this one. I think it is an improvement but does not break much new ground from the first one, still lots of great ripping guitar and good songs.

The Amazing Esther Stephens

Esther Stephens, who plays Kate Sheppard in the Court Theatre show ‘That Bloody Woman’ also plays Ngaire Monroe in the TV Show ‘Westside’, currently on TV3, Sundays 8:30.

She has a band with an excellent album:
https://estherstephensandthemeans.bandcamp.com/album/esther-stephens-the-means

and Videos on YouTube:
Light in You 
Under You
French Kiss


Also in ‘That Bloody Woman’ are:

Amy Straker sings as Amy Grace on
https://brotherandsistermusic.bandcamp.com/album/caught-in-the-clouds


Phoebe Hurst has a free album:
https://phoebehurst.bandcamp.com/


Tim Heeringa plays guitar:
https://timheeringa.bandcamp.com/releases

 

That Bloody Woman

That Bloody Woman

By Luke Di Somma & Gregory Cooper
Directed by Kip Chapman

song from the show

This is the best show I have seen for a long time (probably since Grease a few years ago). But don’t ask me.. here are a few more who agree….


In Association with Auckland Theatre Company A Christchurch Arts Festival Commission Suffragist, activist and cyclist Kate Sheppard transforms from a face on the $10 note into a feminist firebrand raising hell in this red-hot new rock opera.

Leading the charge to win women the vote, Kate takes on the patriarchy, public opinion and even Prime Minister Richard “King Dick” Seddon. The smash hit of the 2015 Christchurch Arts Festival returns to take a fresh look at one of Christchurch’s favorite daughters brought to life: loud, proud and in your face.


Reviews

Sheppard musical revival is a righteous, rocking instant classic

It all started in a Christchurch tent.

I first reviewed rock musical That Bloody Woman in August last year when it debuted in a speigeltent in front of a couple of hundred people during the Christchurch Arts Festival.

It was immediately obvious that this show was something very special that deserved a bigger life beyond its three-night run in Christchurch.

Since then, That Bloody Woman has been restaged and amped up for a nearly three-week run at the Auckland Theatre Company that attracted rave reviews and sold out houses. Now, it returns to Christchurch for a month-long run at The Court Theatre.

It is a spiritual homecoming for the punk rock musical about Christchurch suffragette Kate Sheppard and her battle to win women the vote in 1890s New Zealand.

I was curious and a little nervous to see how this punk-infused and hand-made musical would transfer to a larger theatrical stage from its speigeltent roots.

I need not have worried. The show is as righteous, witty, vivacious and moving as it was on its debut.

In short, That Bloody Woman is an instant classic.

The transfer to a larger stage with bigger production values feels like a natural evolution for a show that is obviously going places. In the smaller venue last year, some of the rock numbers pinned you back in your seat a little, but in a larger venue the show is able to unfold its wings and really soar.

And soar it does. The infectious, urgent and catchy tunes gave me goosebumps several times, while some of the more moving numbers brought me to tears.

That Bloody Woman is an intoxicating mix of irreverent humour, heartfelt political righteousness and genuinely moving sentiment. Composer Luke Di Somma’s knack for a catchy and enchanting tune is equally matched by playwright Gregory Cooper’s talent for a pithy one-liner and ability to capture history in a respectful but entertainingly irreverent, and sometimes profane, manner.

These rocking tunes and smart lines are brought wonderfully to life by an incredibly talented cast, led by the enchanting Esther Stephens as Sheppard, and an awesomely tight four piece rock band called the Hallelujah Bonnets.

And Sheppard is given a perfect antagonist in the form of Geoffrey Dolan’s Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon. He is every inch the strutting, bearded, beer-bellied embodiment of the patriarchy Sheppard was fighting to overcome.

This is a show that is unafraid to be both profane and profound as it brings to vivid life the powerful motivations and yearnings behind the groundbreaking suffrage movement.

This is a righteous rock musical with wit, verve, humour and heart. I urge you to see it.

I now look forward to seeing this show soar even higher. It feels ready to take on the world.

Review by Charlie Gates, The Press, Fairfax Media


Erin Harrington Review

Agent 22

Agent 22
(1999)

According to their website, they are opening for the California Guitar Trio.
Tom Griesgraber – Chapman Stick
Jimmy Patton – Two Guitars (at once)
Ryan Moran – Drums & Percussion

They owe it all to the the interlocking guitar themes of the 1980s version of King Crimson. The guitar could easily be Robert Fripp playing. But this group has more of a jazz feel. The production is excellent and reminds me of Manfred Escher’s ECM label. Combined with excellent instrumental compositions, this is a real gem. And all those who have borrowed the CD from me agree.

Djam Karet

Djam Karet – Collaborator 1994
Djam Karet – Still No Comercial Potential 1998
Djam Karet – The Devouring 1997
Djam Karet – The Ritual Continues 1987

This is my newest “find”, a band somewhere between Pink Floyd and King Crimson. The albums are either very ambient, spacey ones (Collaborator) or hard, angular and rockier.

Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, April 1999
This latest release by Djam Karet, Still No Commercial Potential starts off with slow burning guitar led track entitled “No Vacancy At The Hotel of Noise.” Guitar led is somewhat of a misrepresentation, because the simple drum rhythm sticks with you long after the track has ended. And throughout I found I was tapping to the same rhythm.

Which is both good and bad, as the next track begins with a subtle ambient passage which continues under another memorable drum rhythm.

This release is a limited edition of 750 containing six tracks of improvised Djam Karet, the longest of which is the closer “Strange Wine From A Twisted Fruit” at nearly 29 minutes. Not uncommon, of course, in progressive music.

This is more acoustic, more stripped down than last year’s The Devouring The pace here is more leisurely, more introspective.

“Twilight In Lonely Lands” (the second track) has a very “World Music” feel to it – which means, of course, that the rhythm track has overtones of either Native American or Aboriginal or African influences. But would we say that about any instrumental track that has drums up front, in a very non-pyrotechnic manner?

The now almost ubiquitous didgeridoo makes an appearance here as well, on the atmospheric “The Black Line”. This track brings to mind this image: all alone on a crisp, clear, pitch black night where the only light is from the pinprick of stars. In the distance you can hear these sounds – frogs and other water creatures gurgling, some strange animal (the didgeridoo) calling out in the night. When the percussion makes its appearance – sounds like kettle drums though I suspect either digitally produced or some other percussive instrument – you come to realize you aren’t alone, but that you are part of some activitiy – almost ceremonial.

“Night, But No Darkness” picks up the pace a bit with its anxious rhythms, guitars skreech quietly here, though with frantic intensity. Not one to listen to if you’re a little jumpy, as this will only highten it. This is what confused fear sounds like. Actually, with a title like “Night, But No Darkness” one can image that the jitteriness of the track is similar to what those in climes north enough to have 24 hours of sunlight go through about halfway through that long period.

This is a very interesting album to listen to, well worth repeated listenings, as one can discover new things each time. As with nearly all – if not all – of Djam Karet’s releases, this one comes highly recommended.

[The Fall/Winter 1998 (#29) issue of Progression has an interview with Djam Karet, circa the release of The Devouring. -ed.]

More about Still No Commercial Potential:
Released: 1998
Label: self-released

Track Listing: No Vacancy At The Hotel of Noise (7:04) / Twilight In Lonely Lands (7:10) / Room 24, Around Noon (8:41) / The Black Line (10:01) / Night, But No Darkness (8:09) / Strange Wine From A Twisted Fruit (28:51) Total Time: 70:32

Musicians: Gayle Ellett – Guitar, E-bow, Organ, Percussion Mike Henderson – Guitars, E-bow Chuck Oken, Jr. – Drums, Digital Keyboards, Percussion Henry J. Osborne – Bass, Didgeridoo, Percussion

Website: www.djamkaret.com

Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, August 1998
If you are looking for cool, jazzy instrumental rock, then you need look no further than Djam Karet. The first half of The Devouring would fit the bill. And if you are looking for tight, precise, guitar playing, you’ve found that here, too. Each individual composition is worth an examination in its own right.

The Devouring is Djam Karet’s latest release and thematically it owes a lot to The X-Files. Whether this was intentional or coincidental, I’m not sure, but with track titles like “Night of the Mexican Goat Sucker,” and “Lights Over Roswell” there has to have been some thought of the cult series.

Regardless, The Devouring is a great album, and can truly be called progressive – both in execution and in spirit. “Forbidden By Rule,” the second track in, features some stellar guitar work, but that is really true for the whole album. There is a freedom in not having to following the pop formula and Djam Karet make good use of that freedom – each track here (and on their previous albums) is expressive – almost bigger than can be contained in the song format. There’s a feeling of movement in Djam Karet music, as if somewhere there are visuals to accompany the music – whether a movie or a PBS nature special. Therefore, listening to this, you need merely close your eyes to be transported where Djam Karet want you to go.

In both “The River of No Return” and “The Indian Problem” a dry Southwestern feeling is evoked. In the first, you can almost see and feel, towards the end of the track, sandstone canyons towering high overhead as you float along the…well, “The River of No Return” (I suppose, too, depending on your mood, you might think of the river Styx, or be reminded of Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness).

While guitars (Gayle Ellett and Mike Henderson) dominate this album – the sultriness of “Lost, But Not Forgotten,” or the elegant etherealness of “Myth of a White Jesus”, for example – the bass and drums (Henry J Osborne and Chuck Oken, respectively) provide a solid base from which the guitars can take flight. Even still, Osborne and Oken get chances to show their mettle, most strongly in “The River of No Return” and “Old Soldiers’ Disease”.

While stand out tracks are hard to pick out, at any one moment any of them would apply, as of this review, the ones that have stuck with me are “Lights Over Roswell,” which starts out atmospheric – not unlike Steve Roach, with whom they collaborated with on…um,… Collaborator, and strangely reminiscent of the Babylon 5 theme music – but soon morphs in to a rollicking, funky, bouncy sci-fi tune with just enough otherworldliness to earn its title.

The bottom line is this: go out and buy this album. It is the best thing to come out thus far for the 1997-1998 music year.

More about The Devouring:
Released: 1997
Label: Cuneiform

Track Listing: Night Of The Mexican Goat Sucker (7:04) / Forbidden By Rule (5:55) / Lost, But Not Forgotten (7:45) / Lights Over Roswell (6:44) / Myth Of A White Jesus (4:19) / The River Of No Return (8:47) / Room 40 (8:36) / The Indian Problem (5:30) / The Pinzler Method (4:48) / Old Soldier’s Disease (11:04) Total Time: 70:28

Musicians: Gayle Ellett – Guitars, E-Bow, Organ, Keyboards, Mellotrons, Theremin, Wind Talker, Koto, Birds, and Percussion Henry J Osbourne – Basses, Guitars, Keyboards, and Percussion Chuck Oken, Jr – Drums and Keyboard Sequencing Mike Henderson – Guitars (#1, #2, #3 & #5) Judy Garf – Rhythm Violin (#4)

Website: www.djamkaret.com