Blue Mosque & Citadel
The following appeared in The Wire.
The main flaw in the otherwise excellent Fun-Da-Mental album Seize The Time was its reams of "mutual respect" sleeve notes and carefully transcribed lyric sheets: there was a feeling that they were trying to say everything they'd ever wanted to say there and then, in one big dollop. Although text is still held as primary authority in many of the Middle
Eastern religions and doctrines (ask Salman Rushdie), it seems that they may have to employ other strategies in order to infiltrate or integrate with the language-sated West.
On first hearing, Muslimgauze sound like I imagined Fun-Da-Mental would before actually hearing them. The "group" is actually the long term project of one person, Bryn Jones, a percussionist and Islam devotee based in Manchester. Blue Mosque and Citadel teem with wordless, high-definition Electro-rai, thick with percussion loops and live zarb routines processed through washing machine ambience. The work is interesting in its own right, but it's hard to see why (as claimed in the accompanying press release) some retailers have banned the records from their racks: sleeve art featuring aerial photography of the shelled-out Iraqi desert does not make for effective pro-PLO propaganda.
Where the music goes further than other Asian hybrids is in not actually sounding like a hybrid at all. The heavily sequenced rhythmic elements of cups and bells and distorting electronic short-circuitry fit this break-beat treatment like a gauntlet. The effect is more meditative than aggressive, giving something of the feeling of the automaton, hive mentality you see in film of thousands descending upon a mosque. A call to prayer rather than a call to arms: rare qualities in Western appropriations of Eastern culture.
review by Royal Green
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 129).
Reproduced by permission.
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see also Blue Mosque, Citadel & Citadel & Infidel
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Blue Mosque Citadel Citadel (promo)
November 4, 2020