Djam Karet - Reflections from the Firepool. 1989 USA

Reflections from the Firepool is where Djam Karet went pro. Prior to this, their releases had been more jam oriented, with far less focus on composition and melody. It's also the album where I was first introduced to this fine long running band from California. I picked up the CD from a mail order dealer not long after release (be sure to see the "more section" below), and was subsequently blown away.

To understand this, one must go back to 1989. It was a time of optimism for many reasons, but all one needs to remember was the basic collapse of The Warsaw Pact on a nearly weekly basis. Tyranny was out and Freedom was in. On the music front, after years of dormancy, the psychedelic guitar was being brought back to prominence. Djam Karet, along with Tangle Edge and Ozric Tentacles were leading the charge and using the instrument not just as an accent, but rather as a focal point. This wasn't the 80s indie rock / neo psych hybrid that was popular with the post New Wave crowd, on the contrary, these new groups had in mind Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Duul II, and Gong - along with other such great bands from the early 1970s.

'The Sky Opens Twice' is a perfect opener. As I read other reviews, there seems to be a unanimous chorus that the album is nothing more than loose instrumentals. This is far from the case here. While certainly there are some incendiary guitar jams sprinkled throughout, that of course is what this listener (and my peers) would hope for. The payoff of the investment as it were. Other highlights include 'Run Cerberus Run' and the title track. Perhaps only 'All Doors Look Alike' with its incongruous free sax blowing on part 1, and the second half of 'Scenes From the Electric Circus' aren't up to snuff (though the first part of this track is super).

All in all, Reflections From the Firepool is the album that put Djam Karet on the map. They sort of lost their way in the early 90s, only to come back ferociously with The Devouring, and never looked back again. For my tastes, Reflections From the Firepool is a very important work of the latter 80s, which ushered in numerous other bands who followed suit in the very interesting and productive 1990s.

Personal collection
CD: 1989 HC

The band self released their album on CD and cassette, and the album was subsequently picked up later by Greg Walker's Syn-Phonic label for vinyl release (something he stopped doing not long after (vinyl releases that is)). For those who only have the LP, you'll be missing out on two very good to excellent lengthy tracks that had to be left of so to fit the format: 'Scenes From the Electric Circus' and 'The Red Monk'.

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