Arab Quarter

Release date: November 10, 1996

Arab Quarter follows hot on the heels of our recent September Muslimgauze release Re-mixs, and like it's older brother it offers an abundance of original music at an unbeatable price. Arab Quarter is a melting orange and white lava flow of unbelievably hot Arabic techno-beats that burn everything they touch. It's studded with strange, disembodied voices and unidentifiable, frightening noises. The silences and spaces are awesome and terrifying.

The second disc, 11 Minarets, is a focused exploration on one theme, and it allows the band to push the boundaries of their music deep into new areas. As on their other recent releases the volume is pushed to the limit. Muslimgauze continue to define their own genre, and without a doubt there simply are no imitators, wannabes or pretenders. With the intense studio manipulation that their music is subject to it's no surprise that they're from Manchester, England, not Cairo or the West Bank. Musicians from the North of England have long had a fascination with technology and how it can be applied to music. While the inspiration for the music of Muslimgauze still comes from the struggle for an independent Palestine, there are few overt musical cues to suggest this. Only the liner notes of their CDs reveal the true political intent of this band.

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared in The Wire.

Manchester's Bryn Jones remains on a high with the first of these two discs - an ultra-distorted, hash-hazy head-trip through an Industrial Fourth World. The faux-Arab sounds are dissolved and shredded even more than usual, as Muslimgauze continues a recent experimental trend. He conjures a mutant Temporary Autonomous Zone. Where the usual sampled Arab voices lose all definition, becoming cybernetic ghosts. With the potent spectre of Hassan-i Sabbah presiding, this is undeniably out music. Lulled by Muslimgauze's subliminal propaganda. I'm all keyed up for a guerrilla assault on Israeli territory, armed only with viral rhythms and a soul-stealing digital sampler. The second disc, titled "Eleven Minarets", brings everything back to earth, taking the same source material and turning it into a series of leaden electronic slogs. The cut-ups and distortion suggest appetizingly bizarre areas for Muslimgauze to explore in the future, but this time round they're just a drag.

review by Brian Duguid
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 160).
Reproduced by permission.
The Wire on-line index.

The following appeared in Digi-Zine.

Muslimgauze's Arab Quarter is actually two individually titled CDs issued as if it were a single one: Arab Quarter and Eleven Minarets. The first disc got off to a rough start with "Anti Arab Media Censor", a set of energetic Arabian rhythms that are distorted in such a way that it sounds more like problems in the recording than intentional blurring. This technique was also used on Bryn Jones' previous recording, Re-mixs, with the entire CD being so damaged. Fortunately, this was not an album-long concept here, so the recording immediately recovers for the next track, "Yassin Ayyash Part 1". This track is more in tune with what you enjoy Muslimgauze for: tribal tempos augmented with hand percussion, floating synth-flutes, and distant metallic cascades. "Arab Jerusalem" is more a soundscape than a song, its twenty minute journey through the streets of some exotic city (perhaps your own) combining drones with random hand percussion and waves of throbbing electronic noises.

The Eleven Minarets is also prime Muslimgauze: electronic and hand percussion augmented by electronics and manipulation that provide a mystical and futuristic impression of the Arab world by use of their traditional percussive rhythms. The result is a form of hypnotic trance music that maintains greater depth and meaning than the type of trance flaunted on our dance floors.

As always, the song titles and liner notes may prove inflammatory for some (although this one is actually tame by earlier standards). Jones makes no apologies for his politics, and neither do I. If you don't agree with him, don't pay attention to his comments, but don't deny yourself a fabulous musical journey because you don't agree with mere words.

review by Michael Mahan
This text originally appeared in Digi-Zine (Volume 17).

The following appeared on Grinding into Emptiness.

This is by far the best piece Bryn Jones of Muslimgauze has released. "Arab Quarter," which is located on the first CD, displays a very noisy, chaotic Muslimgauze. Arabic percussion instruments lay behind a blanket of distortion for the first track, "Anti Arab Media Censor part 1." In "Yassin Ayyash," a soft, dreamy side of Bryn's style is created. Random drums and samples, mixed with flowing electronic ambience make this track quite different than typical, active Muslimgauze. "Arab Jerusalem" is another, slightly more active experimentation with sound, featuring metallic noise and samples of Arabic speakers. The entire first CD is filled with angry noise. The second CD, "Eleven Minarets" begins to take shape very similar to the first. But after the first track, more organized rhythms lie throughout this piece with the exception of a few. These few are best material that I have heard from this band. Minaret number 7 is an incredible track, consisting totally of electronics and analog noise. This song actually deceives the mind--you never know when the song has actually come to an end. It is quite an experience to hear for the first time, and you will listen to it in utter enjoyment thereafter. A very similar track is Minaret number 11. It has a very unstable feel to it, and constantly pauses randomly throughout the song. These two CD's provide the best Muslimgauze has to offer when it comes to their noisier material.

review by Scott Mallonee
This interview originally appeared on
G R I N D I N G i n t o E M P T I N E S S (July 4, 1998).

The following appears on Amazon.com & Index.com.

Unsteady Middle Eastern Rhythm Cut-up, December 23, 2000

Startled is how I feel whenever I put either of the discs of this two CD set on. The music always inspires a suspicious air. This album paints the hot driftless air, the grit and the rapid sense of urgency that one can encounter in the Middle East. It's probably the way the drums and cymbals just burst through a background of street noises and hum. If you haven't listened to Muslimgauze before I would start somewhere else, say "The Return of Black September" or "Farouk Enjineer". If you are already a fan you will find this extended play a fine addition to your collection of Bryan Jones' work.

"lianas" (St. Louis, MO, United States, December 23, 2000)
Amazon.com Review Index

see also Arab Quarter, Gun Aramaic, Occupied Territories, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September & Arab Quarter ,Azzazin, Gulf Between Us, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September

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February 2, 2017