Azzazin, Gun Aramaic & Gun Aramaic Part 2

The following appeared in The Wire.

"I wouldn't talk to any of them, the whole people are disgusting, so no, I wouldn't". You might expect Muslimgauze's Bryn Jones, who lives in Manchester, describes himself as non-religious, and has never been to the Middle East, to take a slightly detached view of the region's politics. However, the above quote (from an interview where Jones was asked if he would consider any Israelis to be "good people"), and albums with titles like Abu Nidal, Uzi, Vote Hezbollah and Hebron Massacre, continue to confirm that for Jones, shades of grey do not exist.

Jones has released over 30 Muslimgauze albums since the early 1980s, and if anything, he's now getting more prolific. Long-time listeners will already know how little his music varies from album to album, combining a propulsive, faux-ethnic rhythmic base with dusty atmospheres and occasional Arabic found voices. For all I know, these voices could be discussing the price of bread rather than the prospects for an independent Palestinian state,. but when the drum machine and buzzing effects get going, it doesn't seem to matter. The hot, windy ambience and the dub-like reverberation combine to produce music with an easy, obvious appeal. Gun Aramaic sticks mainly to this blueprint while showing a few signs of progress, but Gun Aramaic Part 2 really kicks in with the surprises, dropping a driving Hip Hop beat underneath "Shia Psalm" and piling the deconstructive mirage-like effects higher than usual. It's an excellent amalgam of the accessible and experimental.

Azzazin is the third in a series of limited edition releases. It represents even more of a stylistic departure, although according to Bryn, it s likely to be the only Muslimgauze album to explore this particular area. Inspired by a remix of his music carried out by the Finnish Techno mavericks at Sahko, Azzazin sees Jones replace the Arabian desert with the equally empty, lonely spaces of pure electronics. A sharp, edgy taste dominates the music, with the flavour of acid-washed metal. Unsurprisingly, it sounds exactly what you'd expect if you took Gun Aramaic's sequenced rhythms and substituted the instrumental voices. It used to be easy to say that you only needed one Muslimgauze album in your life. Now you might want two, and Gun Aramaic Part 2 and Azzazin would be the ones to go for.

review by Brian Duguid
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 147).
Reproduced by permission.
The Wire on-line index.

see also Arab Quarter, Azzazin, Gulf Between Us, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September, Azzazin, Azzazin, Return Of Black September & Sandtrafikar, Gun Aramaic, Gun Aramaic Part 2 & Gun Aramaic & Gun Aramaic Part 2

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January 9, 2017