Ayatollah Dollar

The following appeared in The Wire.

Other worlds, other times: gone but not ignorable, Bryn Jones's vast work of mourning now emits a double echo. The plaint of Muslimgauze sounds not simply like a gesture of political empathy but like form of self-mourning: before he died Jones was already navigating some kind of liminal life-death space. Under the volcano of noise eruption is a very clear frailty. Double echo: the always present political 'content' pushes you to take sides; but I always find this music unbearably moving. I am undone by it, it bruises, hurts, tears; it incites, but elicits tears in the process. Ayatollah Dollar is a harsher Muslimgauze: from the scree/scream of 'Tikrit' to the voodoo click of 'Heroin Smuggler', it works according to some secret logic of viral contamination; an umbilical cord between the sacred and the profane; monstrous angels running interference and jabbering propaganda. Perfect Staalplaat package - a perimeter fence, seen through night-sights - and at 30 minutes this offers perfect access for anyone looking for slip routes into Jones's vast corpus.

review by Ian Penman
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 200).
Reproduced by permission.
The Wire on-line index.

The following appeared on Nezzwerk Seven.

From Staalplaat comes this new MCD, the latest release in the Muslimgauze (RIP) subscription series. Limited to 500, it is available to subscribers only. Once again, Staalplaat has done an incredible job on the presentation and packaging of this release. The disc comes in a transparent and embossed greed jewel case, with the title of the release imprinted on the case, similar to the "Azad" or "Remixs Vol. 3" cases.

Musically, the works of Muslimgauze are a blend of jagged and sometimes distorted Middle Eastern percussion, skittering electronics, crackling static, unpredictable breaks and pauses, and a variety of samples, usually with a decidedly Arabic flavor. Recent releases have also shown an incorporation of dub and reggae elements into the mix, and this continues here. "Tikrit" opens with looped percussion over a laid-back reggae beat. With its repetition, the track lulls the listener into a trance like feel, until the flow is suddenly interrupted by outbursts of distortion, gradually breaking the once pristine track into a disjointed mass. The title track, meanwhile, is propelled by a wonderfully aggressive and non-linear dub beat, while underneath various voice samples are interspersed with the sound of various weird electronic frequencies, giving the listener the impression that he or she is tuned to the radio in some far off land. "Mazzin Zehawi" blends more percussive loops with a cascading sample of what sounds like a guitar. Gradually, the loops fade in volume, while crackling static rises to the forefront. Eventually, the percussion struggles to the surface again, only to have the track finally end in static.

"Ayatollah Dollar" is yet another intriguing release from one of experimental music's most prolific artists. In all aspects, this is a beautiful item that demands to be part of your collection.

This text originally appeared in Nezzwerk Seven e-zine (June 20, 2000).

see also Baghdad, Ayatollah Dollar, Jebel Tariq & Sufiq

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January 31, 2017