Arab Quarter, Gun Aramaic, Occupied Territories, Re-mixs & Return of Black September
The following appeared in The Rocket.
For those unfamiliar with Muslimgauze, they are an electronics-based band that began life pumping out vaguely dancey beat music. Over time, they have mutated into a sparking monster, capable of power, beauty, subtlety, and conjuring a sense of you-are-there atmosphere that is absolutely throttling in its realism and intensity. As for their particular speciality, Muslimgauze exist at the point where Middle Eastern street music (in dub) and avant-trance electronics collide. This is not house, dub, techno, jungle, or trip-hop. Muslimgauze are absolutely self-defining.
Based in Britain, Muslimgauze present themselves as staunchly supportive of Palestinian Arabs, but remain mysteriously "not there" in the media. Besides their vaguely defined politics, they are profoundly committed to altering beats, pulses, and samples in every way possible. In doing so, they destroy every cheesy image of limp, ethnic/electronic "world beat" you ever held.
Arab Quarter is a fine place to begin any Muslimgauze collection. This two-CD set offers everything to love about the band. The first disc features the band turning in a fine performance filled with percussion, terrific stereo effects, and trippy, deep Arab grooves. It's a fantastically telling sonic event to sit in front of this LP with a great pair of speakers. The bonus CD features 11 minarets, essentially Muslimgauze stripped to their bare bones - just stark, huge beats ricocheting from every angle in an attempt to destroy a few themes. A DJs delight, an apartment neighbor's nightmare.
Black September features a more spare, haunting vision of the band's enchanting, cinematic head music. This is a lovely disc that's also incredibly, deliciously fucked up. Muslimgauze have so mastered their unlikely fusion that they are capable of furiously whip-snapping every sound in their mix, but still having it sound plush, calculated, icy-hot. An outstanding, exciting record. As a bonus, they enclose a coupon inviting listeners to send a DAT in exchange for 60 minutes of exclusive, unreleased material.
For a band so committed to altering its material in every way, an LP devoted solely to remixes may seem almost redundant. Re-mixes, though it has many bright spots, often suffers from too heavy a hand that only obscures the blinding, powerful immediacy of Muslimgauze's music.
Gun Aramaic, a just-released recording from early 1995, presents a more atmospheric vision of Muslimgauze. Here is a band stepping back from the furious mélange of tapes and beats to post a recording of found voices, almost-there beats, and entirely three-dimensional production. There are tracks--"Oil Prophets (pt 1,2,3)"--that feature trademark Muslimgauze sounds, but for the most part, this is a lovely record of bells and unmistakable Arab street sounds confronting tomorrow's technology. Essential.
Occupied Territories is, essentially, a tribute record with brilliant bands the likes of Zoviet France, Panasonic, and O Yuki Conjugate performing music inspired by Muslimgauze. While not as absolutely essential to any real understanding of what Muslimgauze are, it is a fitting testament to their importance, power, and absolute singular vision.
review by S. Duda
First appeared in The Rocket magazine January 30, 1997
© 1997 BAM Media
see also Arab Quarter, Arab Quarter, Return Of Black September, Re-mixs, Gun Aramaic and Occupied Territories, Arab Quarter, Azzazin, Gulf Between Us, Re-mixs, & Return Of Black September, Gun Aramaic, Gun Aramaic & Gun Aramaic Part 2, Gun Aramaic, Gun Aramaic Part 2 & Azzazin, Occupied Territories, Re-mixs, Re-mixs & Deceiver, Re-mixs & Arab Quarter & Return Of Black September
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Arab Quarter Gun Aramaic Occupied Territories Re-mixs Re-mixs Volume 1 + 2 Return Of Black September Return Of Black September (re-issue)
November 4, 2020