This section is dedicated to people that have been major contributors to the site and also to people that have gone above and beyond to bring knowledge of Bryn and his music to a greater number of listeners.
I can't thank you all enough for what you've done and continue to do. I hope that allowing you some space to tell the world a bit about yourselves is at least some compensation for all your work. Anyone who knows any of these people, please let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.
The Reason For This Whole Thing ...
Unfortunately Bryn is no longer with us. He therefore can't compose an autobiographical piece but I'm sure if you take the time to work your way through the site & read all the reviews, interviews, articles, comments and especially listen to the music you'll glean an idea of what he was all about.
June 17, 1961 - January 14, 1999
Biographical Note, or
How I got Here ... Jeremy Keens
The boring stuff out of the way first - I am a lecturer in Anatomy at RMIT in Melbourne, just pushed past 44.
Right. The first single I bought (with some Christmas money) was The Beatles 'Love Me Do/PS I Love You'. At about the same time I bought Georgie Fame's 'Yeah Yeah' and my sisters and I got 'Help' as a present - I still have those singles and The Beatles albums we were given, though I don't have Acker Bilk 'Stranger on the Shore' and someone else doing 'A Walk in the Black Forest' that I got for Mum and Dad as 'leaving England' presents. But I am a collector.
With my first pay packet ($16 for 40 hours!) I bought my first album: the Easy Rider Soundtrack. Since then I haven't looked back - birthdays, Christmas, any time is a chance to expand. My first CD was Van Morrison and the Chieftains, bought on the night I got a CD player. But I wanted the player so I would have a reason to get Eno's 'Thursday Afternoon'. I now have about 950 CDs - my database counts each individual disc so that is singles, albums and each disk in multi-disc sets - and about 12 foot of vinyl, and a lesser count of cassettes.
My interest has always been in seeking out new music, testing for myself the various artists, styles or releases described in magazines (or, more recently, across the 'net). And of course by the managers and staff in record shops. A formative encounter came soon after my arrival in Melbourne 8 years ago, when I found a shop called 'CVs' which moved and became 'Peril 305' and now 'Peril Underground'. There Darrin started pointing me in new directions, most of which I have followed willingly. Only after a while did I realise he was Shinjuku Thief and Mr. Dorobo.
One disc he led me to was a second hand Muslimgauze - 'Veiled Sisters'. Darrin explained it was a great ambient album, so what the heck, I handed over the money. It was love at first listening, but the passion burnt slowly. I built up my collection here and there (a second-hand 'Abu Nidal/Coup D'Etat' in California, mail order 'Fatah Guerrilla', more from Darrin - 'Azzazin', 'Arab Quarter' highly recommended - and my sister-in-law was lucky enough to go to the Staalplaat shop). Bryn's death has spurred a further burst of activity, ongoing.
My feelings about Muslimgauze are expressed in the reviews and articles already in the site.
Also through Peril I got in touch with the editor of 'Vivisect', an industrial/ambient fanzine, and my reviewing career began. Then came 'ambience': first a magazine and then (after distribution problems) a net-zine. Why do I do it? Self-promotion, I love seeing my name in print or pixels; the chance of free CDs, which I take; I like the opportunity of finding new music, unsolicited disks which please and surprise. But mostly the chance to promote music I like - to try and interest people in some of the weird, little known, but wonderful stuff I listen to - as a way to thank the musicians.
As Official Reviewer, I am not a hundred percent sure what my role is - but you can always expect honest, but fair, reviews, which aim to describe the experience you will hear.
Finally some pointers to my musical tastes. The triumvirate of Eno/Bowie/Fripp stand central to my 'mature' position: mainly Eno, but the other two came first and introduced him through 'Low' and 'no pussyfooting'. The Eno/ambient strain is probably the most significant part in all its glories: from Nyman, Bryars, Toop, Budd and others introduced through the Obscure label to Orb, FAX label, Obmana, Robert Scott Thompson and others influenced by him. In a 'serious' direction: the Metamkine label, Naxos Alte Music, Kronos and Balenescu Quartets, Glass, the little acknowledged Factory Classical mark: another axis - Dorobo, Snog/Black Lung/Soma, Ikeda and the microwavers. PiL/Wobble, Bill Nelson, Sylvian, Jethro Tull, Main, Style Council, Peter Gabriel, Aube - and on and on. In a few words, diverse and perverse.
Another Load Of Tripe, or
Why This Exists At All ... Terry Bennett
When Jeremy took up the gauntlet, as official reviewer, I had asked him for a brief autobiographical note. It seemed like a very logical idea to give all of you an idea of where this gentleman was coming from.
A brief explanation; of the request of Jeremy's services. He had already contributed a great deal of writing to the site and I was very impressed by his work. I was also attempting to get some reviews for many of the items that we don't hear much about. Jeremy, as he expressed, will be honest and fair and has a nice level handed writing style. I'm sure we'll all enjoy his contributions. Besides all this he's a nice guy and to make sure we're a truly global affair, Bryn was from the England, Jeremy's from Australia and I'm from Canada.
Now, why am I here. Well I guess I first realized there was something different with my musical tastes when everyone was raving about the Beatles (1964) and I couldn't get enough of the thundering drum bit of The Dave Clarke Five's "Glad All Over". The first record I was given was Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced" which I quickly traded to my sister for "Fresh Cream". This was the true beginning of my love of music. Jack Bruce's voice and bass playing and Ginger Baker's drumming were wonders to my ears. Everything sort of followed that vain through Led Zeppelin etc. etc. until Bruce's "Songs For A Tailor" was released and the horns and arrangements took me in a jazzier direction as well.
I spent a lot of time hanging out with the gang from a local record shop (of course they were the only shop to carry UK & European imports) which exposed me to a great deal of previously unheard material. ( A quick aside: if you haven't read Nick Hornsby's "High Fidelity" and you also hung around one of these shops, you're missing something special.) In the early seventies I stumbled upon Roxy Music and via that Mr. Eno. I discovered Cluster and then ran upon the most interesting artist yet. Conrad Schnitzler! A brilliant, totally unique talent and I guess from that point everything became fair game.
A note in Jeremy's piece that caused a chuckle was his comment regarding Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon". I had bought this CD immediately upon release, along with the NTSC version of the video, but didn't have a CD player for a couple of years after that. (A big "sound" of vinyl fan.) The one positive was at least I got to listen to the music via the video. I had a little 14" TV that was easily turned on end, to accommodate the vertical format video, but of course the sound stunk.
My musical tastes are quite wide and varied. (note - these are in no particular order) Cabaret Voltaire and Richard H. Kirk's various guises, David Thrussell's various projects, Bill Nelson, Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill/Van der Graaf Generator, Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, Daniel Menche, Darrin Verhagen's projects, Jah Wobble, Public Image Ltd., J. A. Deane, Art Zoyd, Patricia Dallio, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Steve Tibbetts, David Torn, Paul Schütze, etc. etc. etc. and of course Rapoon and Muslimgauze!
Sorry for the lengthy rave. Now to the real business.
I first heard Bryn's work in 1984 via the "Buddhists On Fire" release on Bourbonese Qualk's Recloose label. This work totally enthralled me. I immediately got in touch with Recloose and they got me in touch with Bryn. To my excitement, I discovered he had done some other work and had copies available. I got hold of these (all on Bryn's own Limited Editions label) and was thoroughly won over. A truly unique and impressive artist. Bryn and I maintained a correspondence over the years, with him letting me know when new stuff was available and me immediately getting them from him. Very rarely did he ever have a decent distribution deal so this was the only way to get them. By going through this process I started to get to know Bryn a bit at a time. I always marvelled at his music but very soon began to be taken by his enthusiasm and his belief in what he was doing. I began to take a look at things from a different perspective and understand his point of view.
I felt very strongly that more people had to get the chance to hear the music of Muslimgauze and get the chance to learn more about what Bryn was basing his music on. I wrote to Bryn and asked if it would be acceptable to create the Web site and he was quite pleased with the offer and bestowed the "official" status to it. Everything just took off from there. A more timely correspondence began via fax until one rainy afternoon the phone rang and upon answering this very quiet voice said "Hi, this is Bryn". After all these years we finally got a chance to actually chat. It was brilliant. (Can't explain why I never thought of this before, doesn't really look great when you've spent twenty some years working for a telecommunications company.)
From that point on there were numerous phone calls and numerous faxes. People started to line up for interviews and the site really got rolling. It's been a great joy to be involved in this project and was and is truly a work of love.
So this is why I'm here and I assume you're here because you either enjoy Bryn's work or want to find out more about it. Well, browse through. There's lots here and more coming all the time.
The man from ... Soleilmoon!
I discovered Muslimgauze in 1983 while I was working at a record shop in Portland called Singles Going Steady. The store was located kitty corner from Powell's Books, which I think everyone has heard of by now. The bookstore was only a few years old at the time, and is still there, but the record shop is long gone. A pizza-by-the-slice restaurant now occupies the space where esoteric punk and noise music was sold.
Singles Going Steady was the only game in town if you were looking for strange music, so for me it was heaven. Sadly, the business was already failing when I was hired, and owner, Thor Lindsay, who later went on to run Tim Kerr Records, frequently paid me with store credit, which was fine because I always had other jobs and would have spent money there anyway. The "Hammer & Sickle" 7" had been sitting on the shelf for a few months, unwanted. I played it a couple times, and finally decided to bring it home. That's how I became a Muslimgauze fan.
I was experimenting with recording at the time, and made a crude remix of the A-side of the single by layering on selected bits from a tape recording of a woman undergoing a hypnosis. The tape had been acquired from the local outlet of the Scientologists. If memory serves, there were some snippets of the voice of Ronald Reagan in there, too. In my naive enthusiasm I copied my cassette and sent it to Bryn -- I think it was the winter or spring of 1984 by then -- and he replied with a polite, if unenthusiastic letter. I still have the original tape somewhere, I think. It might be the first Muslimgauze remix ever made. It's definitely the worst, of that there can be no doubt.
In September, 1984 I left Singles Going Steady and started selling records from a box in the basement of my parents' house. I called it The Ooze, and sold imported vinyl from 4AD, Factory, Rough Trade and other notable labels of that time. It was as much a way to feed my collector's obsession as it was a way to make a living. The next spring I moved downtown and the record shop took up a wall in the apartment I shared with my friend Robert. That fall, we formed a partnership and rented a tiny office at the lobby level of the building we lived in on West Burnside. The partnership only lasted a few months, and the shop never thrived, although I kept it going until I sold it in 1991. I think a lot of people remember it fondly.
I started Soleilmoon Recordings in the back room of The Ooze in 1988, with a pair of cassette tapes that were issued on the same day. I know they were issued at the same time because I remember doing the printing for both of them, but I've forgotten the actual date that they came out. SOL 1 was a compilation of tracks from local noise band Smegma, it was called "Morass". SOL 2 was an untitled Muslimgauze tape containing side one of "Abu Nidal" and side two of "Coup d'Etat". It lives on today as SOL 2 CD, now with all four album sides and a proper title, "Abu Nidal/Coup d'Etat". I'd contacted Bryn again, this time to ask him if I could release something on my new record label. He agreed, and sent me the master tapes from the albums. I didn't have enough money to release vinyl, and cassettes were affordable, so that's how I did things back then. But the tapes I put out were moderately successful, and CD releases soon followed. It's no exaggeration to say that since the earliest days of the label Muslimgauze has been an integral part of Soleilmoon's identity. More than 20 years later he's still part of Soleilmoon and I still have plenty of unreleased material. I only wonder what kind of music Bryn would be making if he were alive today. I'm pretty sure it'd be as genre-defining as it was in the 80s and 90s.
Joining the faith ... my story so far!
It was a difficult time when Bryn Jones' music entered my life. Being a solitary person most of the time, it was odd when my circle of friends had expanded to the point that I began drinking and doing drugs quite heavily. This all led to the worst place I can imagine - jail.
Music had always been an important part of my life, but I went from early Wax Trax industrial like Ministry and Revolting Cocks to the extreme opposite side of my mind listening to the Orb and the KLF's early works. The idea of music that didn't have a club-play mentality was such a new concept.
I went to a friend's house for my birthday party in September 1992 and he had the "Zul'm" release. I had never heard anything so beautiful. I immediately asked my friend whom that was I was hearing. He explained, rather incorrectly at the time, that Muslimgauze would press a few of each record and donate the proceeds to underground organizations and hospitals for Palestinian relief. I never was a very political person, except when it came to gay rights, but I began to think about more important things.
For several years, I would watch Bryn release material, but I had gotten involved with my, now, soul mate and music took a back seat to building a life together. My friends all went by the wayside as well, but I remember seeing music catalogs and the Muslimgauze section got bigger and bigger, the more I looked. I never did forget that first release I had heard.
It was not until December of last year that I rediscovered Muslimgauze. I was at work surfing the net and somehow I came across the infamous site. When the discography page loaded, my jaw dropped. I clicked on the scroll bar and the page went down and down and down. There was only 86 releases then, but that was overwhelming to me. I started thinking about music again. As I got to the bottom of the page I saw the word "Mp3". I had gotten so involved in computers that it jumped out at me. I immediately clicked on the "Fedayeen" page and noticed they were not available. I returned to the discography page and clicked on the "Melt" page. I was so happy to see them available that I immediately downloaded the 4 tracks. At first listen, I was confused. It was not at all like the ambient sound I had experienced six years earlier. I kept at them, though, until they became ingrained in my brain.
Next comes the part that The Edge will remember vividly. I began e-mailing him constantly. I wasn't sure of his connection with the Muslimgauze world, but, with the first positively intelligent answer he gave me, I had more questions. He was always so friendly and knowledgeable.
I've been collecting Bryn's work now for 8 months and I have a substantial amount. There is still a great deal that I have to find, though. At times it's discouraging, but, at other times, it's a great inspiration to continue.
When I heard of Bryn's passing, I was upset with respect to obtaining the music. I couldn't believe that so early into my collecting career, I saw the end of the fun. Little did I know that Bryn had been so prolific that the releases would just keep coming and coming. The other feelings were ones of sadness that someone so inspirational had been torn from so many lives. How will so many get along now? Strength in numbers, is how I feel.
After the barrage of questions to The Edge regarding compilation appearances, he asked me to compile my own information and write a discography for the page. I was floored. To be considered in such great company! I still can't believe it. I've been working for a while, and I have to admit that it's much harder than I initially thought. So many people have helped, that it would be impossible to thank them all. I just hope that all the hard work by the entire Messenger site will be appreciated for years to come.
I suppose that's all I have to say for right now, but as The Edge can attest, I won't be quiet for long.
Are you still with us...?
I'm the anal freak of the bunch. I require ordered lists and concise organization. And where this is lacking, I create it for no other reason than, well ... it was there. Case in point: The Muslimgauze Sonography.
The Sonography grew out of two seeds: 1) I had a similar project going, dubbed by a friend the Legendary Pink Dots Sonography. This was an attempt to keep straight all of the song titles used by the Dots and their various side-projects. I set out to do this partly because I thought it would be neat to see all of their known tracks listed irrespective of release, band name, etc. It also showed some interesting relationships that I would not have noticed otherwise, like themes in titles, concepts, and other trends. 2) Muslimgauze's immense discography seemed a perfect application of such a venture. One thing that has bugged me is that even to this day I can only identify a few Muslimgauze tracks by name. There are so many to keep track of, several titles appear on multiple releases (even if they are different tracks), some tracks (or themes) appear on different releases with different titles. And don't even get me started on the topic of track misspellings. All this makes people like me lose sleep at night...
So, The Edge was kind enough to express an interest in including the Muslimgauze Sonography on the website - an offer I enthusiastically accepted. I continue to hope that others find it a useful tool for tracking down specific tracks, or simply find it to be an interesting read.
I can relate to Peter's experience pertaining to misinformation about Muslimgauze. My first introduction to MG was hearing it at a record store in 1994. I loved it, but was turned off when I heard that proceeds from Muslimgauze sales went to support Palestinian terrorist groups. What a drag to have missed out on several years of hearing MG due to such an absurd notion. I rediscovered Muslimgauze with the 1998 Lahore/Marseille release, at which point I dropped everything. Most other "experimental" or "industrial" music became bland and uninspired once I discovered Muslimgauze. My already (admittedly) elitist taste became even more so...
If I could name a definitive piece of music that put me on "the path", it would have to be Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" album, which my Dad played for me frequently as a kid. He also tells me he put my crib next to the stereo and played Roberta Flack to relax me, so I suppose it could have started there... I think the former sent me down one path (the electronic/experimental path), and the latter sent me down another (the pop music side of things). 1986 was the beginning of an active pursuit of music to challenge my expectations. A little shop called "The Ooze" in Portland, Oregon (whose owner, Charles Powne, would later go on to found Soleilmoon Recordings) was the focal point of this activity. My friends and I would make frequent trips to this mecca of weird so that Charles could enlighten us with new sounds (little did I know that even then, Ooze Tapes was probably working with Bryn Jones). Over the years I have honed in on what I feel are the more important groups. Among these is Cabaret Voltaire (et al), and I have helped out with probably the "most official" unofficial website for CV: http://brainwashed.com/cv.
Anyway, I always knew I wanted to play music. I majored in percussion performance for a few years and graduated with a music degree. I have played in a number of capacities over the years - gigging with many ensembles and bands at some great venues. From a writing standpoint, I have been heavily influenced by what I've been able to glean from interviews with Bryn Jones about his approach to creating music. I find it astounding that he didn't use samplers and computers, especially considering that much of what he did was years ahead of what other people have managed to accomplish *with* computers. While I can only aspire to possess that kind of time and innovation, I fear I'll have to give in to the shortcuts of the West (as he might put it) and look for ways to marry my computing and acoustic drumming experience to meet my musical needs. I don't know. Maybe I'll just bag that and play dub music in my basement.
I am Mo, graphic designer & an active listener of Muslimgauze’s music.
Every single person I know already heard, at least once about Muslimgauze, even my baker & my neighbor who is 87 years old.
I discovered Muslimgauze when I was 14 (in 1994), I created the Muslimgauze’s fan site ‘Arabbox’ in 1999 (the year he passed) & I am now working on a musical tribute to Muslimgauze involving musicians from many countries.
For me, there is Muslimgauze & the others. I think Bryn Jones created the most revolutionary sound of the century & I hope his work will be recognized one day as a very important contribution in music history.
Through his sounds, Muslimgauze was stressing issues that were often going far beyond the frame of music. I guess there is a lot to say about his numerous & polemical sources of inspiration. I would advise anyone who want to go further into this to start from the titles of his songs (that also give an idea of his subtle & provocative humour).
Personally, I think that the keys to understand his message are all in his abstract music, if you listen carefully you will hear more love than violence.