Djamra is a current Japanese band, coming from Osaka. The quintet is composed by a rhythmic section, a saxophone player and a trumpet player. The trio also uses many guests, according to it's needs. It's music is a blend of Jazz, Jazz-Rock, Progressive Rock and Avant-garde music. It seems that none of these aspects have been forgotten, be it conventional or much more experimental. Bassist Masaharu Makaita appears as a real virtuoso, in the true sense of the term. His powerful and ever-present sound really leads the band. Slaps or fretless bass are regularly part of the show, too. After a remarkable mini-CD, comes the time of the first album. What is often regarded as a perilous exercise becomes here a real achievement ! "Transplantation" (2003) alternates between traditional sequences and controlled crazy jams, the whole included in concise tracks. Not to be missed !
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"Channelling" is a short track that resumes the crazy sound of this band. It is like the introduction of "Assassin in Sin" whose drums work by Akihiro Enomoto is brilliant, always in the right place and moment. The song has again some changes, all together working in order to create a cool, and challenging song. I like a lot the bass sound, though it is repetitive it creates some tension and makes you wait for something, for what is coming next. Then the sound of winds (sax and trumpets) are always amazing.
"Neo Skin" comes again with superb bass notes creating a crazy sound which will be almost silenced after a minute, when it slows down and the wind instruments appear with a delicate touch. Then the drums make its spot, showing once again that these are trained and of course, talented musicians. After the second minute there is a part in which you may feel like in the chaos zone, great!
"Mood" starts slowly with bass lines, little by little the other instruments join and begin to create a sophomore and eclectic trip. This song is not like the previous ones, I would say it is not the Djamra sound that we already know, but it shows that they can create different moods, as the title suggests.
"Nest" follows the previous song path at the beginning, the first minute sounds like that, but then it returns to the crazy sax/trumpet sound shown in the first tracks. The track shares different textures and sounds, once again they took their "different passages" formula because you can listen the craziness first and the softness later, or vice versa. That combination is cool, though in moments it could turn repetitive: warning.
A second part of the CD could be found in this track "Time Flies like an Arrow (3 hones version)" which is like an alternate version of the first song of the album, it is peculiar to see they put it here in this moment of the album. The following track is "Hz" whose first minute sounds like an explosion, but later it stops and a new structure is being started. I like how they put and create different colors, nuances and even atmospheres in one single track, you can also appreciate to some weird noises here and there, cool.
"Pliable Clockwork" is another short track, which actually does not show anything new, it can be synthesized as a short version of Djamra's music. "The Cave" starts with bass and drums creating a cool sound. Later a minor silence and some changes in time and tempo, there is a moment after minute three when a chaos is created and an ambient of tension appears, giving the listener elements to feel excited. This is a very good song, well and cleverly composed.
And finally the longest track, a fifteen-minute epic entitled "To India". As the title suggests, the first minutes have that Indian-like sound where you can close your eyes and let the music take you there. A couple of minutes later drums and trumpet appear and a new sound is being little by little created, provoking some tension and nervousness until it totally explodes, and when that happens I can only say "woooow" and have a big smile, total satisfaction has come to me. There is a significant amount of minor changes in this long epic, but all together are the pieces that comprehend this one body, all those pieces are necessary to enjoy the whole track.
Djamra are a band whose music is great to me, and I am really happy to know them and very lucky to have seen them on stage. They are coming to Mexico City in a couple of weeks, and I do hope to see them again. If you are a fan of crazy jazzy and avant-garde stuff, you should try Djamra, you know, Japan has always good music to offer, you won't regret. My final grade will be four stars.