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Posts Tagged ‘Djam Karet’

What bands have NO weak albums?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

There’s a small thread going on at ProgressiveEars asking for recommendations of Univers Zero’s music. I posted a quick response, basically saying that I like all of their albums (thus making mine an entirely unhelpful contribution to the discussion), though for different reasons. I really don’t think there’s a weak spot in their entire discography — some 10 albums as of the release of Live last month. Some I like less than others, sure (their first two “reunion” albums are a notch below the rest of their body of work IMHO), but it’s all quite good, with each album subtly different from the ones that came before and after.

I can’t really think of any other band about which I feel this way. There are some bands out there that I like all of their albums, of course, but none with the long history and large discography of Univers Zero. There are plenty of bands who have a great discography but who have released a clunker or two, or at least a couple albums that I’m lukewarm about. There are some non-prog bands, like Cowboy Junkies, Mogwai or The Decemberists, whose discographies I like front to back, following along with their subtle stylistic changes as they evolved, but I don’t like them with the same passion that I have for Univers Zero.

I don’t know. Henry Cow comes close, but they have fewer albums and I’m not a huge fan of the Canterbury-centric sound of Legend. I guess King Crimson comes relatively close as well; I adore a lot of their albums, but I’m not a huge fan of their 80s period and they’ve just released so much material (and I have so much of it) that I’m just not as well-acquainted with a lot of their stuff, compared to how well I know all of UZ’s releases. Perhaps Daniel Denis’ infamous perfectionism, and refusal to release live albums until this new one, pays off in the form of a more concise and lovable discography.

I think I’m rambling a bit, but I think the point is this: there are very, very few bands out there who can say that they’ve released a bunch of albums in a recognizably distinct style, all of excellent quality, yet all of which show enough progression and development such that they don’t all sound alike. I mean, some people probably love all of the Ozric Tentacles‘ or Djam Karet’s albums, but to me they’re all too similar to each other. Univers Zero have avoided that rut, doing something a bit different every time (although arguably the reunion version of the band shows less progression between albums than the classic version) such that every album, despite being in the same overall style, is a unique work that stands well on its own merits. And this is without exception — no clunkers in their history at all!

If I think of another band about which I can say this, I’ll follow up, but I don’t think I will. Univers Zero isn’t my favorite band — I think a decent number of bands have reached greater heights — but perhaps no one in my experience, particularly in the rock music field, has been as consistently good as they have.

Djam Karet will play NEARfest next year

Monday, July 31st, 2000

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m pretty damn excited that Djam Karet has been booked to play NEARfest 2001. Djam Karet played a key role in the development of my progressive rock tastes, and as such I have something of a soft spot for them. I’ve never seen them live but I keep hearing that their live shows really cook, so I’m pretty enthused.

Memory and association

Thursday, May 4th, 2000

Still “sick as all hell”, so this is the only real update. In a pathetic bout of self-pity I went out today to the local record store and bookstore and purchased some CDs and a book. I’ve forgotten how nice it is to get a nice new book for recreational reading - I’ve not read anything for fun since Christmas. I got, if anyone cares, Gene Wolfe’s Litany of the Long Sun, an omnibus of the first two novels in a tetralogy. Wolfe is one of my two absolute favorite authors (the other being Harlan Ellison) and I find his work highly stimulating.

Speaking of novels, I was thinking of the spring of my junior year in high school, when I was starting to get into prog and when I was prolifically reading science fiction novels at the rate of about 3-4 per week. I have some indelible associations made from reading while listening to music: for example, I will forever be emotionally affected by Djam Karet’s Reflections from the Firepool, as I first listened to it while reading Stephen Donaldson’s highly emotional fantasy series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It’s fascinating how one medium can enrich the experience of the other.

Anyway, the CDs I got today, in blatant violation of my restriction on CD buying that was supposed to last until the end of the school year:

  • Budd, Raymond, Guthrie, Fraser - The Moon and the Melodies - Joe’s review convinced me
  • Dave Brubeck - Time Out - slowly building my jazz collection
  • Miles Davis - Live-Evil - aaaah!… this stuff is intense
  • Grey Eye Glances - Eventide - a great deal (used $5); a bit too slick and adult-contemporaryish but not bad

A brief but interesting look at how Sean Malone starts writing a song, with RealAudio clip:

It’s a simple groove in 12/8, with a small metric modulation to 3/4 in the middle. This is how it starts. A simple rhythmic pulse. I’ll play with this for a while, develop some textures, some melodic content, then some contrasting sections. Here it is.