Arabbox (second issue)
release date: August 1, 2003
Arabbox was recorded in 1993 following the first Gulf War. 10 years later, following the second Gulf War, Soleilmoon is pleased to finally release this important Muslimgauze album. On April 15, 2003, we issued it in an expensive limited edition of 500 copies, packed in a hand-made metal box. This second edition, in an edition of 1000 copies, is released without the box but has a friendly price.
It's commonly known that Bryn Jones, the late musician behind Muslimgauze, was driven by the passion of the Palestinian people's fight for an independent homeland. What is less well understood is how he found inspiration in other parts of the Muslim world, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. India, with its dominant Hindu culture, might seem like an odd place to include in the list, until you remember that more than one hundred million Muslims live there. In fact Jones, who loved language and wordplay (consider the name "Muslimgauze", for example), frequently plundered the south Asian subcontinent throughout his long musical career for song titles and album names, coming up with gems like "Old Bombay Vinyl Junkie" and "Tandoori Dog".
So it’s not surprising that two song titles on Arabbox can be traced to India. "Ganges Swimmer", heard in another form on the Staalplaat CD Izlamaphobia, and "Firozsha Baag", the fictitious Bombay (now Mumbai) setting for a collection of interconnected stories by Indo-Canadian author Rohington Mistry. Thus it is appropriate that the images and packaging of this release are derived from India. But Iraq is very much in the news again, and that country is not neglected here. Track names like "Kurdish Red", "Sadaambush", and "Basra" all come directly from that region. Incredibly, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Stylistically, the songs of Arabbox follow other works recorded by Muslimgauze in the early 1990's. Fans familiar with the Soleilmoon double CD Veiled Sisters will recognize the flowing, humanistic sounds, natural sounding percussion, and gently shimmering keyboards that sent the reviewers running to their dictionaries to search for new words to describe what they were hearing. Now that Bryn is gone we're left to listen to his work and interpret his genius on our own.
Press release from Soleilmoon.
The following appears on iTunes.
Originally recorded live at the Manchester Turkish baths in July of 1993, only a few years before Bryn Jones untimely death at the age of 38, he and his band mates, Muslimgauze, recorded Arabbox: an unusual project even by Jones standards it was reissued in 2003 in a limited edition of 500, each copy packaged in a metal box handmade In India. A subsequent unnumbered edition was released in conventional jewel-case packaging illustrated with photographs of urban Indian scenes, an unusual theme for Jones, whose primary musical and political inspiration have always been found in the Middle-East. The music on this album will take no long-standing fan by surprise, though. Drones, beats, buzzes, chattering and singing, warbles and ululations, all string themselves out for extended periods without much variation or elaboration. This is not music for the impatient. It is for those who want to immerse themselves in a particular sort of mystical, faintly menacing, mood, and stay there for awhile. "Kurdish Red", with its cheesy synthetic drum-machine beats and soothing keyboard washes, sounds a bit like Bill Nelson’s more ambient excursions, "Ganges Swimmer" offers almost twelve minutes of trance-inducing water sounds and buzzing drones; the unusually funky "Zenanna" is an artful combination of electronic percussion and ominous minor-chord keyboard sounds. This album probably won't convert any infidels, but fans of Jones particular brand of aggro ambient electronica will enjoy it very much.
see also Arabbox & Arabbox, In Search Of Ahmad Shah Masood, Iran Air Inflight Magazine, Jebel Tariq & Red Madrassa
November 4, 2020