Bless your funky prog soul, Djam Karet. With Regenerator 3017 you have given me my day-starting/fast-driving/chilling-out-with go-to album. Fronted by the guitar power trio of Gayle Ellett, Mike Henderson, and Mike Murray, who take turns firing off mad licks, Djam Karet hand out power-blues-marinated chops interlaced with moments of pure jazz. After the opening track, “Prince of the Inland Empire,” which I think is the weak link on the release (and which may also suffer from a touch of muddy sound) DK get down to serious business on “Living in Future Past.” It’s a killer jazz fusion romp with the players each stepping forward to strut their musical stuff. There’s no need to clap after each solo, but you just might. From there it’s full funky-ass speed ahead. I eat up the face-ripping blues-rock solos in “Lost Dreams” and “Desert Varnish,” where the fuzz is laid on liberally, and I’m reaching for the volume knob during the take-center-stage power-ballad pyrotechnics that roar up in “On the Edge of the Moon.” I do have to note, though, that the flute-sound (mellotron?) breaks that split some of the tracks don’t always work for me. They’re fine, but it sometimes feels like an art-rock indulgence. However, they pass and then we’re back into the shredding. Speaking of which, as much as I’ve had to say about the lead guitars, let it also be noted that Regenerator 3017 has ample stores of thick, meaty bass runs, courtesy of Henry J. Osbourne–certainly enough to keep this low-end-lover more than happy. Osbourne’s clearly got more than his share of funk in his soul, and it’s on display everywhere–particularly strolling around on “Wind Pillow.” Rhythm section accomplice Chuck Oken Jr gets kudos for anchoring this jam with steady beats and rich fills, bringing the thunder when needed.
Every time I listen to Djam Karet, I’m amazed that they stayed off my radar for so long. But man, is it a good time catching up with them. Thirty years on–and that would be the “30” part of the title–these guys are still stirring up some mighty chemistry and laying down fantastic grooves. Get this, turn it up, and bliss out. These guitars will do your soul some good.
Available from the Djam Karet web site.