Henderson/Oken - Dream Theory In The IE - 2011



... blur all of the lines while drawing them in the dream moment ...


This Firepool Records album comes out of the Djam Karet camp. We all know Mike Henderson and Chuck Oken as two of the original members of the 25 year-old instrumental progressive band Djam Karet which has released 15 albums in their ongoing career. The guys have been playing music together for more than 30 years in Southern California ... in the geographic region The Inland Empire (The IE). For this project three live shows were performed and recorded in December 2011 in front of appreciative audiences at various locations in The IE. The music was spontaneous and improvised and recorded direct to 2-track digital. Out of six hours of recorded material comes this 76 minute disc. Only reverb, delay and EQ were added in the mastering process (Gayle Ellett) to keep the sounds as it was experienced at the moment. I would define the music as dreamy soundscapes.


Mike Henderson - 12 string acoustic/electric guitar, 6 string lap steel guitar, analog & digital keyboards, effects & loops; Chuck Oken Jr. - synthesized electric/acoustic guitars, keyboards & sequencing, digital drums/percussion, loops, live sampling & treatments


When you are returning from a hectic day at the office you probably don't have the energy to listen to some Djam Karet albums that are packed with powerful and intense progressive rock. At those times this album is a better choice. You can drift away on this relaxed soundscapes. You can find the following tracks on this 76 minute album; “Alive Enough?”, “Forgotten Spirits”, “Deeper Waters”, “Dream Theory In The IE”, “Zombie Attack”, “When All The Birds Die Away” and “John Henry Changes The Rules”. Except of the last two tracks “When All The Birds Die Away” (12:25) and “John Henry Changes The Rules” (24:54) the tracks have a duration about 8 minutes.

In the opening track “Alive Enough?” we hear the lap steel guitar as a sort of basis and the spacey electric guitars and synths float around that basis. Those electric guitar soundscapes remind me sometimes of the solo work of Robert Fripp. In “Forgotten Spirits” we hear in combination with the floating electric guitars more percussion as the basis. In the spiritual sounding “Deeper Waters” the acoustic guitar has an important role. The slow title track “Dream Theory In The IE” has a repetitive basis with freaky guitar parts on top which reminds me of the work of David Torn. In the next track “Zombie Attack” Chuck uses sequencing and the track has some resemblance with the old Berlin School type of music of a band like Tangerine Dream. In the second part of this track the synths are combined with digital drums ... yes the Zombies attack! The first long track “When All The Birds Die Away” has of course a lot of bird sounding effects. On top of all the loops and effects is a delicate ambient piano. This is a piece of ambient music which reminds me of Brain Eno and Harold Budd. the album closes with the longest track of the album entitled “John Henry Changes The Rules”. In the first part of this track you can hear on top of a bed of repetitive synth rhythms a long electric guitar solo. In the middle section you hear repetitive harp sound patterns and a synth solo. Later on there is more digital percussion.


“Dream Theory In The IE” is more an album for the open minded prog-lover who also like electronic music. In my review I mentioned artists like Robert Fripp, David Torn, Brain Eno, Harold Budd and Tangerine Dream. So you can imagine in which way some of the music is developing. Also I want to mention again that the music was spontaneous, improvised and live recorded. You can drift away on this relaxed soundscapes. My favorite tracks are “Zombie Attack”, “When All The Birds Die Away” (with the piano) and “John Henry Changes The Rules”. It is nice to see that I am not the only prog-lover who is also interested in electronic and ambient music. Needless to mention that this is not Djam Karet music. Just check it out!

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - November 2011 -   - Firepool Records