|Dream Theory In the IE|
Henderson / Oken
2011 Firepool Records FR003 (CD)
File under Progressive Ambient. We are bringing in some new titles from old friends that are more in the progressive ambient, rock and experimental vein. Always aiming to keep it interesting and unpredictable, these are centered in this mode of stimulation.
Mike Henderson and Chuck Oken, Jr. have been playing music together for well over 30 years in Southern California in the town of Claremont on the outskirts of Los Angeles, in a land that comes before Coachella, Joshua Tree, and the Salton Sea. This is the opposite of Topanga, an Inside Land where the maps of the soul are drawn in the suburbs, malls, and bedrooms of our lives. This geographic region is The IE -- The Inland Empire. Henderson / Oken are two of the original members of the 25 year-old instrumental progressive rock group Djam Karet, who have released 15 albums in their ongoing career. Not sure who they are? Google them and learn more about art music outside the Eye of the Apple.
Three live shows were performed and recorded in December of 2011 in front of appreciative audiences at various locations in The IE. Released by Djam Karet's new label Firepool Records, the music was spontaneously improvised and recorded direct to two-track digital. Six hours worth of music was recorded, listened to, and lived with over time, and drawn down to this 65+ minute disc. Some effects (reverb, delay, and EQ) were added in the mastering process, but no overdubs or edits of any kind were used. This CD plays and sounds as it was experienced at the moment.
Henderson / Oken are multi-instrumentalists and strong players who have a very keen sense for mood, texture, and space. They embrace all kinds of gear, whether it be acoustic, analog, digital, or electronic. On DREAM THEORY IN THE IE Mike Henderson plays 12 string acoustic/electric guitar, 6 string lap steel guitar, analog and digital keyboards, effects and loops. Chuck Oken, Jr. plays synthesized electric/acoustic guitars, keyboards and sequencers, digital drums and percussion, effects, loops, live sampling and treatments.
Influences and References:
Djam Karet, ECM, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Jon Hassell, David Lynch, Pat Metheny, Richard Pinhas, Pink Floyd, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Tangerine Dream, Steve Tibbetts.
A review by Andy Garibaldi, Dead Earnest:
A side project from two members of the influential and incredible instrumental band Djam Karet featuring seven instrumental tracks from just under 7 to over 24 minutes in length, performed on a variety of guitars, keyboards, sequencers and digital drums enhanced with looping, sequencing, effects, live sampling and treatments. The result is one astounding album that will just blow you away. There's a 7-minute track called "Zombi Attack" that features dramatic drumming and a huge resonant twanging bass sequencer line that fills the space behind a searing heat electric guitar lead. The combination is nothing short of explosive, as it drives and powers ahead with the combination of space synths, that massive bass drone, the guitar heat and muscular drumming, making it a piece to rival anything that Pinhas put out, and one awesome track.
After this comes the 12-minute "When All the Birds Die Away", starting with a kind of electronic bird chatter set to space synths and giant backdrops of drones and cosmic bliss, leading to a lone piano figure gently rippling through the haze, as space synths swoop all around. Throughout its length, the track remains calm and cosmic, but there's always this undercurrent of solid texture allied to the slowly unfolding effects and that wondrously slow piano motif. Out of the depths emerges a set of sustained slide guitar textures that rise up and add extra layers to the track, as the intensity of the drone increases and the piano is ushered into more of a backdrop role before combining with the new drone layers. As a slice of multi-textured, spacey, spacious and expansive music, it hits the spot from start to finish as you remain transfixed to every moment, with a decided Fripp & Eno flavor running in and out of a highly original and superb piece of music.
Following this comes the nearly 25 minute "John Henry Changes The Rules", which opens with a cyclical keyboard riff that is joined by dramatic single-beat drumming and sparkling synth effects, a bit like something Klaus Dinger did on some of his solo albums, only more stretched out. Joining this rolling sea of sound and rhythm comes electric guitar to add height and bite to the track, as the sound of heated lead guitar sustain carries on the wind. The now-complete cyclical sea of rhythm is designed to accompany the guitar which flies and circles overhead. This carries on for quite a long time, all very spacey and moody but at the same time with a certain attack to it, separating it from virtually all others who do this sort of thing and bore you rigid, since what these two do refuses to stand still. Gradually the guitar fades away and in its place comes a delicate cyclical rhythm, a beautiful piano line, and more space effects behind the melodies, until there comes a synth melody that's followed by a piano melody. The duo are unafraid to just let the melodies speak for themselves, adding a whole new dimension to the track. Slowly this also then turns into something else as shuffling drumming and a spiralling synth line enter the proceedings, whereupon they both morph into this rolling sea of rhythm and melody, gradually changing shape as they progress, and a river of Mellotron-like textures is added, giving the whole thing real depth and texture. The electric guitar returns, used sparingly initially, but then soars on top of the slowly rolling mass of spacious layers, and it's all totally stunning and timeless progressive space-music with teeth, slowly fading to a blissful spacey outro, and it's gone. Amazing stuff.
Before that were several more calm, reflective tracks that ran the gamut of everything from Fripp & Eno turned inside out to a mix of melodic, cosmic and twisting, turning compositions that graced a path similar to some of American guitarist extraordinaire Carl Weingarten's early excursions. The opening 8-minute track is rhythmic, with slowly unfolding guitar leads that spiral slowly upwards over the unusual rhythms created on what appears to be a kind of percussive keyboard effect, almost like someone's madly plucking a zither on top of a drum, with echoed guitar and effects adding to the hypnotism of it all, as the guitar unwinds and floats.
"Forgotten Spirits" is right out of the early Weingarten stable with slowly rhythmic electronic percussives as a guitar lead mixes Weingarten and Tibbetts in equal measure, gliding out on clouds of sustain over the bobbing beats. It's all just glorious stuff. The nearly 7-minute "Deeper Waters" and the 8-and-a-half minute title track dive into the most cosmic sections of the album, with space music of the highest order which really commands your attention.
Throughout the album, Henderson / Oken succeed so well by making so-called "unfeeling" music come alive with emotion. It's that constancy of passion and humanity running through all they create which makes this such a compelling listen, time after time after time.
|1. ||Alive Enough?||MP3||8:10|| |
|2. ||Forgotten Spirits||MP3||8:03|| |
|3. ||Deeper Waters||MP3||6:47|| |
|4. ||Dream Theory In the IE||MP3||8:36|| |
|5. ||Zombi Attack||MP3||7:09|| |
|6. ||When All The Birds Die Away||MP3||12:25|| |
|7. ||John Henry Changes The Rules||MP3||24:54|| |