Dome Of The Rock

Release date: June 16, 2003

ant-zen is proud to join the distinguished ranks of Staalplaat, Soleilmoon, Extreme, and other labels in offering the rarefied music of Muslimgauze. Dome Of The Rock is ant-zen's first Muslimgauze release, and its mesmerizing concoction of middle eastern themes and contemporary electronics is sure to become an important part of the Muslimgauze catalog.

Dome Of The Rock was recorded by Muslimgauze's Bryn Jones in 1993 - the same year that ant-zen released its first record - but like much of Jones' output it was placed on a shelf and somehow left behind. Instead, 1993 saw a triptych of classics in Vote Hezbollah, Hamas Arc, and Citadel, all of which served to cement the growing creative range of Muslimgauze. Although the remainder of the 1990s sees marked shifts in Jones stylistic tendencies - the harsher metal looping edges of 1995's Izlamaphobia, the taut ambient bliss of 1996's Gun Aramaic, the intense electro distortion of 1998's Mazar-I-Sharif, the blistering tabla and bass of 1999's Hand Of Fatima - it's not too ambitious to characterize Jones' output from 1992-94 as foundational to the Muslimgauze mystique. Dome Of The Rock was for a decade a missing piece of that foundation.

Of course there are clear stylistic connections between Dome Of The Rock and other Muslimgauze material released in 1993. Dome Of The Rock's “Infidel Asphyxia 1” and “Infidel Asphyxia 2” share the strong presence of tabla and spoken word found throughout Satyajit Eye; the electric edge present at the beginning of Vote Hezbollah is a timbre that threads through “Dome Of The Rock 2;” and the ever-present throb of the omnipresent desert felt on Hamas Arc permeates the whole of Dome Of The Rock. furthermore, the title track has been in circulation since 1995, appearing on Salaam Alekum, Bastard, as did variants of “Cairopraktar” and “Mandarin Guerilla.”

In fact, to suggest Salaam Alekum, Bastard and Dome Of The Rock are doppelgangers would be reasonable, but entirely dismissive. For one of the defining characteristics of Dome Of The Rock - the aspect that sets it apart from not only Salaam Alekum, Bastard but other Muslimgauze releases in the early 1990s - is the way that bass rhythms drive the album through each musical thought from its simple beginnings to its logical end. From the first track, “Dome Of The Rock 1,” the album succumbs to the will of a bedrock bass theme that propels emotion to lurch forth, as if it were the muscle powering the hand that grips Muslimgauze's percussive scimitar - at the very moment it severs an ambient silence.

Like the 1991 album United States Of Islam, half of Dome Of The Rock's structure is laid out in two-part wholes, where a prevalent theme is worked in dual directions. “Dome Of The Rock 1” utilizes a relaxed, westernized drum kit and atmospheric synth fill to craft a sense of adroit ease; “Dome Of The Rock 2” takes the same drum kit, drops the bass to the floor lightly, and spaces out the ambience with swirling bass flute tones - the adroit ease morphs into a rigid wisp of sound that whips past your ears. similarly, “Infidel Asphyxia 1” and “2” share the machine gun tempo of a piercing woodblock clack and snare accompaniment, but the first version brings synth sounds to the fore like wall of rhythmic passion, while the second volleys those same sounds in measured doses.

On the three remaining tracks, Bryn Jones crafts a microcosm of complimentary emotions. The first, “Mandarin Guerilla 4,” begins with an icy gust of ambience, blowing from side to side, which ever so slowly reveals percussion figures as they lope aimlessly across the soundstage. “Mount Of Olives 1” returns to the driving bass themes of “Dome Of The Rock 1” and “2,” although this time the quiet minor chord structure creates a stronger sense of tension, of the ominous, as the sound of the tambourine sounds of a mazhar echo in the distance. Dome Of The Rock closes with “Cairopraktar 4,” a full two minutes longer than its same-named sibling on Salaam Alekum, Bastard and even more intense in its atmosphere, where the mirwas rhythms run deeper into the stereo image as if captured inside an empty mosque - which makes all the difference in the track's effect.

In a similar fashion, it's this difference in effect that sets Dome Of The Rock apart from all other Muslimgauze releases. Special packaging with embossing.

Press release from ant-zen.

This item appeared on the Islamaphonia 2 mailing list.

This album has seven songs and is about 63 minutes in length. The packaging is wonderful as I would expect from Ant Zen. Apparently, the music has been licensed from Soleilmoon, so I don't believe the music was "forgotten on the shelf" as the press release indicates.

Overall, this album could be titled "Salaam Alekum, Bastard - Part Two" as it remixes some of the songs from that album.

1. Dome of the Rock 1 – 10:11 – This song is very much like the original version on "Salaam Alekum, Bastard". The original (btw) is 10:18.

2. Dome of the Rock 2 – 11:13 – Sounds like a mellow remix of the original.

3. Infidel Asphyxia 1 – 7:25 – I thought this was going to be another remix of "Infidel" from the "Citadel" album… and considering that the music on "Citadel" was recorded around January 1992, I thought this would make sense to see a new remix composed in 1993. But, no. This song is a slightly remixed version of the song "Salaam Alekum,
Bastard". The original SA,B is 7:30.

4. Infidel Asphyxia 2 – 7:20 – A further remix of the song "Salaam Alekum, Bastard".

5. Mandarin Guerilla 4 – 6:46 – A slight remix of the original, which appears on "Salaam Alekum, Bastard". The original is 6:37. Don't know where Mandarin Guerilla 2 and 3 are located.

6. Mount of Olives 1 – 13:38 – The song is unreleased, yet the music is VERY similar to the music on "Deceiver" or the Klanggalerie album, "Untitled" with it's heavy, clean bass lines and finger cymbal chimes. You could also compare this song to the music on "Betrayal".

7. Cairopraktar 4 – 6:25 – Another slight remix of the original, which appears on "Salaam Alekum, Bastard". The original is 4:14. Don't know where Cairopraktar 2 and 3 are located.

I suspect that this album was engineered by John Delf at the Abraham Mosque as noted in the booklet of "Salaam Alekum, Bastard". A wonderful edition to the Muslimgauze cannon! As many on this list know, I adore Bryn's work during this time. There was even a small hope in my mind that this album would actually be the long lost "Shekel of Israeli Occupation" album. However, it is not, but this album would fit in nicely with that time period.

review by governorchavez
Islamaphonia 2 Mailing List

This item appeared on the Toronto Industrial Kollective site.

Dome of the Rock is kind of hard to describe, well rather easy to describe but hard to explain what makes it great. Featuring, I suppose, typical Muslimgauze rhythmic structures, it has a weirdly atmospheric quality. That is to say, although largely beat focused, there is still an atmospheric edge of synthy goodness. Tribal ambient drones predominate, and at times the keyboards even sound vaguely Middle Eastern, although I find it hard to articulate exactly how. Almost in the way they flow in and out of auditory perception, though it's more than just being turned on and off, more like oscillating between hardness and softness, loudness and quietness, often at the same time.

This is extremely hypnotic music, that makes the listener sway and move with each drone, and this is in more than just the beats. The atmosphere also has a strangely rhythmic quality to it, while the beats have a loosely melodic tinge. Even now while I have it on I sense myself giving into its mesmerizing power, yet, still, I'm oddly frustrated in describing it. Perhaps a softer release than some Muslimgauze, yet there is an edge of intensity to it, kind of a soundtrack-is quality of morbidity, a feeling of hostility and anger, while I suppose that's the image we are supposed to be left with, a form of sadness and empathy for those in the Arab world. Oddly harsh, yet at the same time downtrodden, while in quiet pain. Okay, so how does this sound: melodic tribal beats, ambient hypnotic drones, and an overall groove that is alienating, while embracing a generated image of a lost and frustrated world?

review by Vigil
Toronto Industrial Collective (Dec, 2003)

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