Djam Karet was formed in 1984 in Los Angeles, CA, by a group of musicians who wanted to play improvisational rock music: Gayle Ellet (guitar), Mike Henderson (guitar), Chuck Oken Jr. (drums), and Henry Osborne (bass). Although the band never lost interest in instrumental progressive rock, they would later expand and experiment with droning ambient music that was years ahead of the explosion of similar styles in the late '90s. The group returned to their unique brand of atmospheric progressive rock in the late '90s, and by the end of the decade was considered to be among the most respected modern progressive acts.
Djam Karet began their career playing various art openings and Los Angeles area colleges, mixing instrumental rock with Eastern drone influences. Their first record, the cassette-only No Commercial Potential, was released in 1985 and was completely improvised and recorded without overdubs. After spending a period working on musical concepts in 1986, the band returned to live gigging, adding various synthesizers to their sound. 1987's live The Ritual Continues brought the band more recognition, but it was 1989's Reflections From the Firepool that brought them into the spotlight. The record found Djam Karet embracing studio technology and utilizing overdubs for the first time in their career, while exploring both progressive and ambient music. Released on CD, the eclectic record garnered several good reviews, including being named the number two Independent Album of the Year by Rolling Stone. The all-instrumental Burning the Hard City (1991) was a darker album, at times both psychedelic, heavy, and jazzy. It was released at the same time as Suspension & Displacement, which was an experimental all-ambient record. 1994's haunting Collaborator found Ellett and Osborne completing musical sketches sent to them by various electronic musicians. The band returned to their progressive rock instrumental roots with 1997's The Devouring. The following tour was captured on Live at Orion (1999). 1999 also saw the release of the limited edition Still No Commercial Potential, a completely improvised record in the manner of their first release. Djam Karet showed a remarkable amount of activity at the beginning of the next decade, releasing two new progressive rock albums in 2001: New Dark Age and the more accessible and ethnically influenced Ascension. The group has also scored music for television programs on ESPN and ABC, as well as various infomercials and radio commercials.