Azzazin

The following appeared in MumboJumbo.

Rating: 72/100

Encapsulation: Unlike any other Muslimgauze release. Really. Warm dark jelly replaces white hot sand, and respiring samples replace tablas, in a desirable stylistic departure for the Muslimgauze initiated. Not for beginners.

Recording Quality: Clean, consistent sound quality: good signal to noise. Some tracks end abruptly, lending an unfinished, sloppy quality to the work.

Cover Art/Packaging: Infantile. One of the most inane Muslimgauze covers yet.

The Content: Prolific and brilliant pro-Palestinian bigot Bryan Jones has veered substantially from his usual Sino-Arab-tinged trance ambient collage music to produce a highly repetitive series of electronica tracks. Gone are the pungent and incessant percussive patterns and wafting, stringed washes of the desert experience, and the (assumedly) protesting voices of the downtrodden and displaced victims of the occupied territories. Here, these are replaced by a spare and refreshingly new analog synth backbone sound that supports subdued and strange exhalations and oddly synchronized human sniffs and whispers.

While breaking new ground for Muslimgauze, too much is unfortunately the same throughout this disc, which should have been pared down to a three or four track EP so as to retain its power and appeal. Jones has sometimes been given to regurgitating and slightly reworking his material throughout the length of a disc (I'm thinking of Maroon, Betrayal and Veiled Sisters, as examples of a series of unvaried remixes masquerading as complete works), and can only be counted on to occasionally produce volumes of astonishing invention, intensity, variety and cohesiveness, as in Vote Hezbollah, Zul'm, or the recent excellent Gun Aramaic Part 2 (forget about Part 1, another unvarigated collection). I suppose that Jones evolves his musical ideas over the course of entire CDs, and not from track to track, which probably allows him much room for minute variation, but that can be frustrating for listeners who are not completists, but who are looking for a deeper, more aesthetically useful compositional delivery. (And those looking for a complex and satisfying night out on the sonic desert with Mr. Jones should absolutely stay away from the pathetic wire-frame percussion sketches on Blue Mosque, which has been mentioned favorably on this list as good fodder for initiates-- this is puzzling advice, as it as musically nutritious as a constant diet of couscous, and is possibly Muslimgauze's most feeble work to date, all two CDs of it).

The music of Muslimgauze is distinctive stuff, and can usually be instantly identified and chronically gratifying. On first listen to Azzazin, however, I thought I had inserted a FAX release by mistake: it almost sounds like one of Namlook's ethno-ambient meanderings, perhaps undertaken when he had the flu and couldn't round up Bill for a session. The best thing that can be said about Azzazin is that there is not another Muslimgauze CD like it. Whether that is good or bad depends on what you're looking for.

review by Larry Molmud © 1996
MumboJumbo

The following appeared in Vital.

Mr. Jones has, through proliferation, firmly embedded his particular sound on the ears and minds of many. I am tired of his stuff a while ago (Zul'm on Extreme was for me a certain high point in his career) as I found little innovation or adventure in his hey presto! formulation of percussion loops and an occasional overdub of ratatatat. Heard one, heard 'em all... Thank Christ on a Bike (or is it Allah on a Vespa?) for this brightly digipaked limited edition CD released on Staalplaat. Reasons being that there is not a single bloody bell to be heard and the bongos were left in the basement for this one. It's suffused with thick syrupy analogue layers which weave a continuous narrative through this absorbing CD, which I perceive as one composition. Hopefully, whoever bought Jonesy his analogue toy will be saving up their food stamps in earnest so that they can get him another one. Give this man more gear. I'd love to say 'More of the same, please' , but I fear a sudden wave of similar releases might clog up the shelves in the stores leaving little room for the rest of us. Well, that's an exaggeration really because Mr. Gauze's emissions are mostly slurped up in pre-sales or by the Muslimgauze subscribers. And if you don't know what the subscription deal is all about, get this release and read all about it. Details are included inside the digipak.

review by The Square Root Of Sub
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Vital Newsletter
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The following appears in the Fallout R3V13W 4R34.

Warning : if you like Muslimgauze for the warm, flowing rhythms of his music, then this CD may come as a surprise to you. If, on the other hand, you're fed up with the resemblance of all Muslim's music, then this CD may be something for you. On this CD Muslim demonstrates his remix talents: all titles on "Azzazin" are remixes of one and the same song. Something like "Occupied Territories", but then by the master himself. We had our reasons to elect this CD as the Fallout CD of the month! If you're familiar with the dark soundscapes in Fallout, it can't surprise you if we say that we like it because the atmosphere on this CD is more darkish than usual.

However, that's not the only reason: I was really surprised with the innovative sound on this little disk. No Arabic bells, voices, or samples here, only cold, hard sounds and beats: this is definitely one of the most "western" releases by Bryn.

People who don't like Muslim for the "Arabic" atmosphere of his music, should really consider to give this album a try, especially if you're interested in more regular variations of ambient and techno.

review by Dark Companion
Fallout

The following appears in All Music Guide.

Shorter than many of Muslimgauze's 1990s albums - 13 untitled songs over 45 minutes - Azzazin, originally released as part of the limited-edition subscription series, feels more like a collection of random experiments than a cohesive piece of work per se. If not something that would intrigue the casual listener, the hard-core fan will likely find something of interest on the various tracks here. Starting with an extremely minimal opening number - it's no surprise Finnish experimental duo Pan Sonic are Muslimgauze fans, based on this track - Azzazin has a much more electronic feeling than most of Bryn Jones' other albums, eschewing the traditional elements used elsewhere for a rough, quietly aggressive and disturbing feel. Comparisons with Aphex Twin aren't too far off the mark here, but this is still clearly a Muslimgauze release than any sort of rip-off. The fourth track, with its unpredictable keyboard snarls over a low, quiet pulse, and the sixth and seventh songs, with distorted, high-pitched noise tones mixed with a soft series of bass notes and a slight spoken-word interjection from time to time, are some of the strong points from this intriguing release. Beats are used in an extremely limited way throughout Azzazin, with rhythm, always a key component of Jones' work, more suggested at points by the nature of the keyboard lines than anything else. Closing with an equally minimal track, Azzazin won't be everyone's cup of tea, but adventuresome listeners will find themselves rewarded.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

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

First of a series of four 800 copies limited edition re-releases of Muslimgauze's older material, "Azzazin" features 13 songs from the nineties and draws a picture of the artist that is different than the one we got to know. Surprisingly this album contains no trace of percussions whatsoever and instead presents a dry and claustrophobic minimal electronics that sounds more like a Warp band or a project by some S.E.T.I.-inspired laptop artist than a Middle Eastern-inspired band. Outerspace sci-fi sounds meet with found sounds and human-made noises, isolationist experimental knob tweaking and mostly hi frequency material loops playing at random. Interesting art work, inspired by the logo and the lettering of one of the giants of gas and oil distribution in the (not so) free world. Due to its incomplete and almost too homogeneous nature, recommended only for die hard fans of his.

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chainlink D.L.K. (May 17, 2004)

The following appeared on Boomkat.

'Azzazin' is a standout Muslimgauze album, originally issued in 1996.

Tightly focused on a singular palette of monotone drones and swarming electronic buzzes, which arguably sound like a parallel to early Editions Mego or Pan Sonic releases or a prelude to early Raster-Noton emissions.

They’re probably the most minimalist Muslimgauze tracks we've heard, and even still he manages to express a fine range of abstracted emotions, from aggressive buzz to tender ambient pieces and spectral concrete prisms.

Boomkat

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

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January 30, 2017