Review: Sonic Celluloid by Djam Karet

Sonic Celluloid, the 18th studio album by Southern California instrumental band Djam Karet has been released to the delight of fans worldwide!  This album is the follow-up to the 2015 compilation Swamp Of Dreams, and the first album of new music since Regenerator 3017 released in 2014.

Djam Karet‘s multi-instrumentalist and composer Gayle Ellett promised “All new music! Our most melodic album so far! More acoustic instruments, more melodies, more Moog & Mellotron … than on any of our previous releases! It’s 10 tracks, and 45 minutes of cinematic goodness!”

Sonic Celluloid more than lives up to expectations of “sound as cinema”!  Listening to Sonic Celluloid, the listener is treated to, shall we say a film festival for the ears where each of the ten diverse compositions stand on their own, yet flow seamlessly in cohesive order.  Below is a song-by-song commentary.

Sonic Celluloid’s opening song “Saul Says So” is vintage Djam Karet.  The song’s irresistible groove lays the foundation for the instrumental goodness we have come to expect from Ellett (guitar, keyboards), and the rest of the band: Chuck Oken, Jr. (drums, sequencing and soundscapes), Henry J. Osborne (bass), Mike Henderson (guitar), Mike Murray (guitar and piano) and Aaron Kenyon (bass effects).  You will be singing the song’s guitar melody to yourself for days!

We then move to “Forced Perspective”, a veritable guitar tour de force.  The tone on Ellett’s guitar is exquisite and the tasteful soloing should be a favorite of guitarists everywhere.

The first part of “Long Shot” is a very full, keyboard-centered soundscape that leads into some of the best intricate instrumental interplay this side of King Crimson.  The boys have chops, and things are just getting started!

“No Narration Needed” is a mellow interlude that features adventurous bass playing and tasty acoustic guitar that reminds us a bit of Ellett’s acoustic project Fernwood.

“Numerous Mechanical Circles” serves as the previous song’s “sequel” maintaining an ethereal nature where keyboards, synthesizers, and particularly the Mellotron take center stage.

“Oceanside Exterior” features some epic keyboard and guitar work that reminds us of Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd.  This song is a high point and one of the best by Djam Karet.

“Au Revoir Au Reve” keeps the momentum going, serving as another “sequel”.  The groove and keyboard/Mellotron sound textures are the background for some wonderful fretless bass work, and more amazing guitar work by Gayle Ellett.

Imagine if early Foxtrot-era Genesis and Duke-era Genesis got together to make an instrumental.  Imagine no more because through their superior creativity and musicianship, Djam Karet achieved just that with the song “Flashback”.

“Lower” should be a favorite of keyboardists everywhere.  This amazing composition’s wall of sound evokes peaceful feelings that one wishes could continue forever.

“The Denouement Device” is Sonic Celluloid’s closing song and the albums epic piece!  All the instruments shine here from the tasteful acoustic guitar, and bass fills from the first part of the song, to the perfectly solid drumming, the keyboard swells, the mellotron pieces and electric guitar soloing that make up the last part of the song!

Sonic Celluloid continues the long tradition of high quality, critically acclaimed albums by Djam Karet.  The listening experience makes for some of the best 45 minutes you can spend.  Fans of Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, ELP and Pink Floyd will definitely love this album, but make no mistake about it.  Djam Karet is very much a unique band with a unique sound very much like the aforementioned artists.

It should be said that Sonic Celluloid is also one of the best-sounding albums out there.  This is an album that you can listen and crank up and the sound will always be full and organic.  Gayle Ellett shared:  “In order to maintain a more dynamic sound, no compression was used on the songs. (Yes, there is a tiny bit of compression on the drums and electric bass, but none on the mixes themselves).”

Djam Karet has been Progressive Instrumental music’s best kept secret, now the secret is out!

Sonic Celluloid is at the forefront for Album Of The Year honors.

By Alfredo Iraheta

Djam Karet formed in 1984 and still features all its original members.  Visit them at their official website:

Purchase Sonic Celluloid here:



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