Azure Deux (compilation)

release date: 29/11/98

For those who just don't seem to care about Muslimgauze's output, Staalplaat releases most of the Muslimgauze work in limited editions only.
Two times a year we compile various of those limited releases into 1 CD, that is designed to overview the past developments. Covers for these
unlimited releases do not contain the usual harsh images, but are more of a kinder nature.

Azure Deux follows "Beyond The Blue Mosque" and is a greatest hits/best of album that compiles the more rhythmic, danceable, aggressive and up tempo pieces from the following, now deleted, limited CDs: Sandtrafikar, Zuriff Moussa and Fatah Guerrilla.

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared in Chain D.L.K..

Muslimgauze is one of the most prolific artists that I ever met in my life and he's most likely going to be the all over most prolific one in the world if you also count releases like "Azure Deux", which is one of those "best of" that Staalplaat releases two times a year. These compiled CDs (in this case including tracks from "Sandtrafikar", "Zuriff Moussa" and "Fatah Guerrilla") and the art- works are of a kinder nature. "Azure Deux" does focus on the more rhythmic, danceable, aggressive and up tempo pieces, and in fact it is one of my favourite Muslimgauze albums ever: it collects cool tracks made of well-done, fragmented and cut&pasted beats and loops using natural and artificial distortion and asymmetrical stereo images as new elements in the sound palette and as one more new way to explore. The CD comes in a nice Arabic-like coloured digipak and I truly recommend it!

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chain D.L.K. Magazine (Issue #6 - February, 1999)

The following appeared on Aural Fixation.

The passing of musician Bryn Jones a.k.a. Muslimgauze in mid-January shocked and emotionally affected his strong fan base and supporters, as well as numerous people in industrial / ambient music worldwide. Many times when a death arises in the music business, a good amount of people find themselves curiously more interested in the deceased artist's work. Setting all that aside, Azure Deux serves as a sampler from three of the limited releases of his work on the Staalplaat label (Fatah Guerrilla, Sandtrafikar, Zuriff Moussa).

Azure Deux starts out with a signature Muslimgauze distorted percussion loop on "Minaret Above All Others." The overdrive gets kicked up another two notches on the next track, "Shisla Nain Royal Bidjar." Seemingly distant and treated wind instruments play while low bass shatters the speakers. The other percussion oriented tracks take on very different feels of their own. "Farouk Head" tricks you initially into thinking that this is another crunchy one, but softens after less than a minute to bring you a dubby, reggae beat. "Thief Of Sand" is pretty similar to that one, while "Sari Of Aciddic Colours" brings out the Middle Eastern / hip hop hybrid flavor that sometimes possesses Bryn's music. Head bobbing becomes involuntary while this track is playing.

If there's one thing that Muslimgauze is quite well known for, it is his extended ambient pieces, which have a tendency to take the listener on journeys into cultures unknown to Westerners. "Devour" begins with rumbling atmospheres and soft scraping sounds, before percussive echoes and found voice samples invade. There is no exact singular beat to the song, but it flows smoothly thanks to some apparent underlying rhythms. My favorite track on the album "Kalifate" brings sweeping tablas, coherent bass, drones, and Middle Eastern instrumentation create one of the best trance environments I've ever experienced. Listening carefully, voices can be heard in the distance, while certain sounds overtake the song at different times. The final track "Sandtrafikar" is mainly composed of a man speaking while a rapid pulsating beat throbs constantly. However, this is not a song for dancing. In fact, this piece is actually quite ambient.

Overall, I highly recommend this as a fine introduction for everyone to Bryn's music. As for the older fans, most of you probably own the original releases these come from, and if not, already own this one.

Aural Fixation

The following appeared on AmbiEntrance.

The 13 hyper-ethno-rhythmic tracks of Azure Deux had already been released prior to Bryn Jones' death, available only on three limited editions (Sandtrafikar, Zuriff Moussa, and the 3-disc set, Fatah Guerrilla). These are very much "traditional" Muslimgauze tracks with a fair inclination toward the noisy... if you already love his stylings or hate them, you'll most likely feel the same about these pieces; if you're not familiar with his Middle Eastern beat-fests, then I'd suggest that this is a great place to jump in.

As a matter of fact, this disc is to some degree designed as an introductory point, compiling the "best of" several obscure releases, focusing on the most user-friendly bits (despite their often noisy intensity). Even the bright packaging is less antagonistic. (For the uninitiated, Muslimgauze tracks are basically "protest songs" in Jones' ongoing rally against the Palestinian/ Israeli/ Arab socio-political situation. Many are put off by the political ramifications by the music. Others, like myself, ignore those aspects, instead focusing on his exotically furious percussion and sound arrangements.)

I'm simply enthralled by the grungy energy behind Minaret above all others; a throbbing, gritty pulse of bass is trampled by the rollicking patter of thousands of metallic drumbeats. Intermittent drop outs create an unpredictable stop-and-go effect. In Shishla Nain Royal Bidjar, somewhat harsh electro-distortion is interwoven with ethnic flute toppings and a downright pounding beat. Thunderously throbbing e-drums hammer upon Imam Shamil 1837 while metallic Middle Eastern-style strings jangle amongst the storm. Less assaulting, Devour is an almost 10-minute expanse of sparser activity. Meandering, echoing beat patterns are accented by a thin electronic haze and sporadically applied samples. An intriguing, ominous power surges and weaves through the track's middle; all gel into a wonderfully dark excursion.

Turkish manipulator of limbs weaves mutated strands of stringed instrumentation between its thudding mid-tempo drumbeats; the track begins to drastically break up toward its end. The short-lived Shah of Persia (1:06) offers lightly pattering percussion with faint flutey tweedlings. Aggressive electric dissonance invades the opening of Farouk head, which then settles into a calmer groove and soft plucked string accompaniment. Another expressive, expansive high point, Kalifate comes to life with tiny swishes and metallic/ceramic taps amidst a sandy swirl of electrons, growing into a steadily buzzing backdrop against which assorted rhythmic manifestations are artfully tossed. The moodily loping Thief of sand features an unusually prominent acoustic guitar sound and occasional patches of abrasive distortion and abrupt fade-outs.

Lost Zwana takes a turn for the Oriental, picking up tangy Chinese bowed strings, ringing cymbals, and a rather "squishy" electroblurb. The track morphs into an entirely different arrangement, drummier with zinging strings. Prolonged silence leads to Imal Akel; soft ceramic pattering is fused with static in a gathering cloud of sound. After simmering awhile, rock-ish "Western" drum patterns erupt, stridently beating their way through the swirling electronic debris. Extra-buzzy synths cut through the Sari of acidic colours, which is also clubbed by clunky bamboo-style drumming. The track achieves quite a nice groove. Bryn Jones sometimes used recordings from various television programs, documentary recordings, etc.; the speedy, but soft beat and serpentine drone and static of Sandtrafikar (12:25) feature an extended dialogue of unknown origin. The murmured (Arabic? Israeli?) words blend perfectly with the moody music's quietly wary tone.

I confess to being a Muslimgauze fan already, and the tracks of Azure Deux only reinforce that conviction, being some of his finest. Leaning toward the noisier electro-grunge side, they manage to incorporate enough other elements, effects, rhythms and moods to transcend any serious repetition; a 9.4 for these minor masterpieces of sound and fury. Thanks to Staalplaat for keeping Bryn's amazing sounds alive.

review by David J. Opdyke
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance May 26, 1999.

The following appears in All Music Guide.

Operating well beneath the radar of the mainstream (and even much of the "alternative") music press, Bryn Jones managed to release a huge amount of material under the nom de plume Muslimgauze before his untimely death from a rare blood infection in 1999. Of course, much of that output was in the form of extremely limited-edition albums, some of them pressed in one-time runs of several hundred copies, so it's no wonder that the Muslimgauze catalog is something of a little-explored frontier. Azure Deux, uncharacteristically, compiles 13 tracks from three out-of-print albums (Sandtrafikar, Zuriff Moussa, and the three-disc set Fatah Guerrilla). As is often the case with this artist, the music is consistently compelling in ways that aren't always easy to explain; North African percussion is generally at the center of each track (as with "Imam Shamil 1837" and the deeply dub-inflected "Devour"), and there is sometimes little else going on  perhaps a cut-up vocal sample, a keening violin, or an oud. At other times, as on "Thief of Sand," the sounds of stringed instruments and hand drums alternate with heavily distorted bass; "Lost Zwana" combines violins and eerie computer tones. All of it will appeal enormously to anyone whose tastes run both to ethnomusicology and avant-garde electro.

review by Rick Anderson
All Music Guide

The following comes from the Muze database & Epinions.com.

Azure Deux contains tracks from the Muslimgauze releases Sandtrafikar, Zuriff Moussa and Fatah Guerrilla.

You won't find many casual Muslimgauze collectors. The quality, exquisite art design, and sheer irresistibility of limited and unlimited Muslimgauze titles alike fuel obsessions. An overwhelming release schedule leaves little room for dispassionate interest. But even the most devout of fans might have trouble keeping pace with Muslimgauze's prolific purveyor, the late Bryn Jones. His subscription-only "Muslimlim" series has issued CDs, records, and DATs of exclusive material - none of which have hung around long enough to gather shelf-dust.

Staalplaat and Soleilmoon, the Netherlands/USA label sisterhood responsible for much of the Muslimgauze catalog, periodically takes pity on the beleaguered devotee. Azure Deux is the second collection culled from the coveted Muslimlim titles and an excellent introductory survey of Jones' stylistic scope. The selection heavily favors Fatah Guerrilla, a triple-disc set of splintered Middle Eastern percussive loop and dub experiments that is rightly regarded as one of Jones' crowning achievements. Guerrilla extracts range from uneasy, shell-riddled ambience ("Kalifate," "Devour") to exercises in punishing low-end distortion ("Shishla Nain Royal Bidjar"). Tracks from 1997's Zuriff Moussa find Jones constructing convoluted pseudo-hiphop with instrumental loops and sparks of galvanizing, high-voltage electronics. Finally, Sandtrafikar's title track offers a spiralling textural journey into pulsating digital dub.

Muze Epinions.com

see also Azure Deux & Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass & Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass

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January 30, 2017