Blue Mosque

The following appeared in V2 Archiefs' Vital.

Yes, again. And again two discs. That's already 5 hours of music released within a year. This man is unstoppable. This release is a bit sharper than the previous 2 CDs. The rhythms have a high level of danceability but show absolutely no pretence on that respect. There are pre tenses, however. Political ones, that is. A short and snappy communication with Muslimgauze learns that the music must be regarded as political extremist statement. Long live the Palestinian Hamas movement, is the message behind all this productivity. I hate politics, and I think art should not demean itself by letting itself be used for political manipulation. But we don't have to bother about all this. Judging the music for what it is I think this is more of the same Muslimgauze, but it's damn fine music. Strong rhythms, sometimes mixed with harsh distorted mixing. No ranting ayatollahs, but exciting tablas, mixed with soothing ragas.

review by Jos Smolders
V2 Archief Vital

The following appeared in Option.

This two-disc set features a lot of what Muslimgauze does best: it takes layers of treated percussion and exotic rhythms, adds a veneer of electronics or a heavy dance-beat, and winds up with something minimal yet occasionally intoxicating. No melodic or harmonic elements ever arise. Unfortunately, it all becomes a little too much; certainly there's a significant trance aspect to this music, but after a couple of listenings, I couldn't really tell you what distinguishes "Bitter Citrus" from "Pakistani Nuclear Box," or "Rattan Kiss" from "Freedom Fighter," or the two versions of the title cut, from each other. On the other hand, I'm not sure whether this music works at all in small doses. The individual tracks are pretty static, and probably wouldn't make much sense on the radio; you need to play Muslimgauze at length until it starts to seep into your consciousness. Maybe that's why the flood of Muslimgauze product continues unabated. Another two CD release, Zealot offers more of the same, while the CD5 of "Hebron Massacre" is 25 minutes of annoying electronics set to a thudding rhythm. But hey, buy 'em all, fill your multi-disc CD changer, and zone out to a whole new groove.

review by Lisa Carr
This text originally appeared in Option magazine (issue # 60).
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The following appeared on AmbiEntrance.

I'd read about the Middle Eastern flavors and politically influenced industrial/ambient beats of the ultra-prolific Muslimgauze, but never actually heard anything until I happened across the double-CD, Blue Mosque

I hope to never use another blinkie (ed. removed due to lack of CSS support) in my web page designing career, but I feel justifiably compelled to do so now... Man, this Muslimgauze stuff is Rhythmic!

From the first track of the first disk, the rhythm dominates all. Middle Eastern sounds and textures abound, political sentiments stir in the track titles and packaging, modern electronics contribute, but the rhythm rules.

My reviews will be short because the tracks are all mostly just variations of similar elements, but don't take that as a sign of apathy on my part. Despite the repetition, I find this to be fascinating, flavorful stuff!

Muzzel Of Deceit starts it all with its crunchy, distorted electro-ethnicity. It's Disk One's shortest track, at under 3 minutes. Yusef takes a more "traditional" stance, producing a more natural ethnic beat. Bir Zeit mixes a whispered voice and sound samples (locking and loading arms?) over an electronic rhythm.

Rattan Kiss happens to be a favorite of mine. Over 12 minutes long, it weaves Arabic voices and instruments into the dominant and repetitive percussion (Normally I bristle at overt repetition, but this piece just creates such an irresistibly hot, dusty atmosphere). Bitter Citrus  is a somehow lighter, sportier rhythm with patches of quiet (reed?) instruments playing in the distance. Qiblah is darker, with a deep, quiet drone behind its sputtering rhythm.

Strange swampy noises and unusual instrumentation accompany the pulsing rhythmic elements of Futile Arad Search. A strong drumming carries the title track, Blue Mosque  (we're still on Disk One... Disk Two has one also). Very faint sounds emanate from behind this rhythmic layer. Disk One closes with voice and sound samples mixed with the predominant percussives of Fadhaa which fuzzes out in a beatless wash of distortion.

The spirited Bandit Queen opens Disk Two, mixing a pounding drumbeat with something that sounds like an Arabic accordion. Freedom Fighter is even more aggressive, its fuzzy, electronic rhythm beating along with acoustic percussion. Kirpan is more subdued than its predecessors, yet still very driving, with a bit of some bowed string instrument in the background.

Galbanum Tingktyur (and don't ask me what that means!) is, not surprisingly, another exercise in drumbeats; some steel, some cymbal, some snare-type of drum also. Disk Two's long runner at over 10 minutes, Pakistani Nuclear Box is ominous, with a deep menacing drone beneath militaristic drum patterns. Mullah Rockets features harsher electronics than most, is more blatantly repetitive and is quite close to annoying.

Zingari returns to a more natural, less processed rhythm method, tossing in some odd beats and pinging rubber band noises (?), and what appears to be the occasional squall of electric guitar. Disk Two's Blue Mosque is an entirely different composition than that of Disk One and appears to have no similarity other than name. It's a fine bit of beat though.

The two closing tracks share the same name, I Am Khafid Al Istanbul and the same rhythm. The first is more natural and over 6 minutes long, while the second is just over a minute and a half and is a highly distorted version of its former.

One hearty rhythmic thumb up. If for some reason, you don't like Middle Eastern percussion, stay away. Sometimes it seems like it's nothing but beating, beating, beating ethnicity and sparse electronics, but I think it creates a fascinatingly foreign ambience.

review by Link O'Rama (a.k.a. David J. Opdyke)
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance July 12, 1997.

The following appears in All Music Guide.

While "Muzzel of Deceit" isn't as strong an introduction to this double-disc effort as earlier tracks were for their respective albums, it's still a fair effort. It shows Muslimgauze continuing the work begun on Zealot, where dub-wise production techniques blend with drones and at times slamming beats, "Freedom Fighter" being a great example of this (why Muslimgauze hasn't been more readily sampled by other artists remains a mystery) to create a very modern form out of traditional types of music. "Bir Zeit" stands out here, due to its aggressive electronic feel and distorted rhythm track elements (intentional here as compared to Zealot); though the track is mixed relatively low, it sets up an excellent air of looming menace thanks to the strange whispering throughout the track. "Futile Arad Search" is another fine piece; it relies on a strange percussion loop that seems constructed from anything but regular percussion instruments which are set against a slightly more conventional rhythm that surfaces from the wash of sound in the mix. Particularly striking is one part where little but a soft drum machine beat and the sudden shudder of a tambourine come to the fore. Other songs worthy of attention include "Fadhan," with its wheezing electronics layered below a traditional drum performance, the jaunty swing of "Bandit Queen," with its quirky keyboard hook, and the slow, compelling crawl of "Pakistani Nuclear Box." Longer tunes like "Rattan Kiss" sometimes succeed, and sometimes don't; occasionally rising from the music's foreground is the unfortunate slide from entrancing minimalism to relative boredom which can afflict Muslimgauze releases. While not quite up to the same level as Zealot, Blue Mosque is still another fine Muslimgauze release.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

The following appeared on Boomkat.

The opening "Muzzel of Deceit" shows Muslimgauze continuing the work begun on 'Zealot', where dub-wise production techniques blend with drones and at times slamming beats, "Freedom Fighter" being a great example of this (why Muslimgauze hasn't been more readily sampled by other artists remains a mystery) to create a very modern form out of traditional types of music. "Bir Zeit" stands out here, due to its aggressive electronic feel and distorted rhythm track elements; though the track is mixed relatively low, it sets up an excellent air of looming menace thanks to the strange whispering throughout the track. "Futile Arad Search" is another fine piece; it relies on a strange percussion loop that seems constructed from anything but regular percussion instruments which are set against a slightly more conventional rhythm that surfaces from the wash of sound in the mix. Particularly striking is one part where little but a soft drum machine beat and the sudden shudder of a tambourine come to the fore. Other songs worthy of attention include "Fadhan", with its wheezing electronics layered below a traditional drum performance, the jaunty swing of "Bandit Queen", with its quirky keyboard hook, and the slow, compelling crawl of "Pakistani Nuclear Box".

Boomkat

see also Blue Mosque & Citadel

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January 9, 2017

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