The second item in Burning Shed‘s newsletter this week announced a remastering of one of Djam Karet‘s albums. That name rang a bell somewhere deep in the bowels of Crotchety Man’s memory but the sound had no shape or substance. There was no clue to the band’s origin, personnel or style. Obviously, there was a gap in my patchy education. And we can’t have that, can we?
Turning to Spotify‘s About page I found Djam Karet described as “an all instrumental progressive rock, proto-jam band”. Unsure of what a proto-jam band might be I read on to find that their influences include King Crimson, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Porcupine Tree and Ozric Tentacles. And that’s all good. Spotify‘s brief biography goes on to suggest that Djam Karet‘s compositions encompass styles ranging from fluffy pop to experimental jazz and textures spanning ambient to metal. This band was going to be difficult to pin down.
Streaming the earliest of their albums left me disappointed. No Commercial Potential (and Still Getting the Ladies) is an amusing title but the content was unstructured improvisation that reminded me of the “tune-in, drop out” kind of 60’s psychedelic rock. After a few long minutes I made the quantum leap from earliest to latest album, 2019’s A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof. And it’s delightful.
Here it is on Spotify. (It’s also on Bandcamp.)
The album kicks off with an invitation to look Beyond the Frontier, to imagine new horizons from the safety of familiar territory. It serves as an overture to a Long Ride to Eden. We are going to the promised land and we are full of joyful anticipation. By the time we reach the West Coast we are tired, but happy. Nature resounds to the music of the spheres here. It is a warm evening, perfect to spend the night with A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof. Venus lies low and bright to the south east, Mars a little higher to her right and the great bow of the Milky Way hangs over the plains, bathing the scene in silvery light.
In peaceful sleep we dream of Dust in the Sun, dust that swirls gently and falls softly down to blanket the Earth where it nourishes the flowers and the trees. Time passes imperceptibly until On the Third Day Arrived the Crow. The bird is curious about our rag-tag band of travellers at first but soon decides we have little to offer and flies off to rejoin the murder in a slow wheeling dance above our heads. Our planet turns again and with it comes the diaphanous Specter of Twilight once more. She shimmers briefly in the moonlight and then she is gone as Night Falls. It’s a soothing lullaby that marks the end of the album, leaving just the crickets to chirp us to sleep once again.
The research is still very incomplete. Djam Karet‘s first album failed to impress the judges; the last is an excellent ambient record with strong progressive rock credentials. Everything in between remains unknown within these walls. Shall we listen to some more or shall we just gather round the camp fire and sing a few songs while the stars look down?