Muslimgauze (Rotten Tomatoes band of the week June 16-June 23, 2002)
Band members: Bryn Jones (RIP)
Instruments: percussion, synth, analog tapes, MiniDisc, records, found sound (mostly TV and radio interviews)
Genre: experimental techno, IDM, dub, ethno, industrial, noise (often wrapped together in one song)
Formerly E.g Oblique Graph, a rather uninspired one man Cabaret Voltaire rip-off, the band evolved into Muslimgauze in 1982, as a protest against the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon.
As Jones himself stated: "Before that time we were just interested in music but at that point we turned our attention to politics. (...) Motivation is the injustice of the Palestinian's, the Zionist aggression against innocent people who have had all they owned taken from them by Zionists using American money and arms."
Politics turned out to be very inspiring indeed. Since 1982, there have been about 144 (!) Muslimgauze releases, about half of which full length albums, the majority clocking in at over an hour. Jones' untimely death in 1998 did nothing to stop the onslaught of releases. There are still Muslimgauze albums coming out, with 5 more planned for 2002 - there's still tons of backlogged material since Bryn composed at the rate of one track a day.
Although the songs are completely devoid of lyrics, Muslimgauze does an excellent job at chronicling the plight of the Muslims. The politics are most obvious in the provocative sleeve art, the song titles and the snippets of found sound that lace the tracks, but in a special way they're present inside the music as well.
"Every piece of music Muslimgauze releases is motivated by a political fact, mostly Palestinian, also Iran and Afghanistan are of great interest. Muslimgauze usually take a word or action etc. and from that evolves a basic idea, which is then altered etc. until the finished pieces come to life. I view samples as theft. (...) Muslimgauze try to construct their own sound, using their own ideas, a basic backbone of Middle Eastern influences, sounds not falling into the 'Arabian Nights' trap all other Western bands fall into."
"The bell and the Arab drum would probably be the key instruments used. We don't sample things, they all come off cassettes taped from radio. I hate samplers, each beat is hit live without being looped, we don't steal things like other people do."
The percussion and the bells were mentioned, but the music and the sound that makes Muslimgauze so unique, is really hard to pin down. Sometimes it is very thick with manic percussion and Middle Eastern themes. Other times, it is very stripped down, ethereal, almost ambient. Then there's some industrial releases to throw off listeners even more. It's the kind of music that, just when you think you have it figured, heads off in a completely different direction. Either way, Muslimgauze is wildly original and fun to listen to - but I don't recommend taking in large doses at a time.
Flotser's recommended releases :
(I have 25 of the 144)
- Silknoose: Gated synths and manic percussion. not as repetitive as other releases, a good introduction.
- Narcotic: An even better introduction. "political ambient" - yes, it's possible.
- Zuriff Moussa: The most danceable release - if some poor street kid in Afghanistan would make hip-hop, this would probably be what it sounds like. essential.
- Vote Hezbollah: IDM-ish, could be a soundtrack to an Arabian cyber punk film.
- Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass: My favourite. hard to describe, dub meets hip hop meets industrial meets Arabian folk music. There's some drum and bass touches in there as well.
article by Floster
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