Beyond The Blue Mosque (compilation)

release date: now available (April 24, 1997)

Since late 1995 Staalplaat has issued limited edition releases by Muslimgauze. Until now 9 of those releases were available, and they are all sold out. To explain once more: the limited editions are for die-hard fans, giving the possibility to collect a lot of Mr. Muslimgauze's music (and imagine: there is still much you didn't hear!). Every year Staalplaat will release a compilation CD with the best tracks from a set of limited edition releases. These releases are designed for those people who will want 1 or 2 Muslimgauze CD's a year.

"Beyond The Blue Mosque" is the first in a series of those compilations. Compiled by Berrie Kamer (VPRO's Mort Aux Vaches man) with the best tracks taken from Izlamaphobia, Azzazin, Return Of Black September, Deceiver and the Zealot 10". The music shifts back and forth between aggressive up tempo pieces (from Izlamaphobia and Deceiver) and the dark, moody brooding atmospheres (from Azzazin)

The CD is housed in a warm, friendly, non-political cover and should be sold at a mid-price.

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared on AmbiEntrance.

Beyond The Blue Mosque is a compilation of tracks which originally appeared on several of Muslimgauze's limited edition releases on Staalplaat. The notes list eight tracks (but the disc actually contains nine) gathered from Izlamaphobia, Azzazin, Return of Black September, Deceiver, and the Zealot 10".

When you think Muslimgauze you think ethnic percussion and lots of it; thus Vanilla Jellaba, the opener, quickly gives way to a delightfully unrestrained pounding, which is joined by droning organ chords. Things stop and start and disintegrate into what seems to be tape cut-ups. A most spirited piece, and my favorite here.

Track two is Track 9, notable for its total lack of beats. It's 1:49 of oscillating electrical tones. Libya (extract) is a longer piece featuring a banjo-like strumming (I don't know what the Middle-Eastern counterpart to a banjo is called...), occasional meandering beats and cymbal taps, intermixed with intermittent Arab/Israeli(?)-language vocal snippets and sound effects. It seems very soundtrack-like, and I'm assuming the clips come from movies and/or TV.

The track fades directly into Najibullah Headless, a chiming, crunchy distortion-fest. A driving bass line, backed by a more rock-ish beat accompanies super-flanged electronics. Deceiver is the marathon track, at over 24 minutes in length. Much quieter than the previous cut, it mixes piping reeds with low percussion in various incarnations. Bongo beats, tapping cymbals, pattering jars, vocal snippets, bursts of feedback... it's a veritable mish-mash of the "usual" elements... not that this is a bad thing. The length adds to the total immersive atmosphere.

Beseej bangs more forcefully, blending male and female voices into the mix. Somehow militaristic, but not blatantly so. Track 12 and 13 is/are listed as track eight. Both are taken from Azzazin  and like their partner Track 9 (that's track two on this  disc), both are short (2- and 3-minutes respectively), beatless electronic pulsations. The former is a bit louder than the latter.

The quiet gives way to the blare of Help of Hamas. Swells of feedback and some distorted instrument(?) loop repetitively without percussive accompaniment. Not an especially exciting closer unfortunately.

Of course Bryn Jones infuses every Muslimgauze project (and there are many ) with heaping political/social overtones which I'm not equating into this review. We're just about the sounds here.

This disc contains more sonic variety perhaps than The Blue Mosque, but some of the other sounds aren't particularly enlivening... just not "Muslimgauzey" enough. More for the intermediate collector than for the initiate, I declare Beyond the Blue Mosque  to be a One-Thumb Up recap of tracks you'd probably never hear otherwise.

review by Link O'Rama (a.k.a. David J. Opdyke)
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance March 7, 1998

See also Beyond The Blue Mosque & Narcotic

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Press Release/Reviews Index Release Information Back Muslimgauze

January 9, 2017