Drugsherpa

Oftentimes when a reissue has bonus tracks their provenance can be tangential or suspicious; in this case,
they’re more like a homecoming. When Bryn Jones turned into the master for what would become 1994’s 'Drugsherpa' mini CD to once and future label Staalplaat, the label selected the twenty-minute title track, truly one of Muslimgauze’s most distinct and awe-inspiring tracks, to fill the release. The sinuous, doom-haunted “Drugsherpa” still sounds fresh today but in 1994 it was so far ahead of its time that the rest of us didn’t catch up until a decade or more later; only now does it really sound like it has contemporaries. It deserved its own space.

But it wasn’t alone on that tape; and with the mini CD long since sold out, this reissue releases its siblings into the world for the first time. Unlike “Drugsherpa” itself, now restored to its original place as track three of the reissued 'Drugsherpa', the other six tracks on this now 56-minute album are all remixes of other Muslimgauze material. As usual for Jones those remixes take the songs in all sorts of directions, subtly or not; shorter, longer, backwards, dubbed out, less dubbed out, and so on. The result, as well as functioning as a kind of ad hoc compilation of material from several recent-at-the-time Muslimgauze releases (plus a remounting of “Gulfwar” from 1987’s 'Abu Nidal'), shows anew the infinite variety, multiplicity, and complexity of Jones’ work.

But the darkly brooding “Drugsherpa” itself remains, justly, the center of attention here. Less directly political than much of Jones’ work, it builds up to an immense, slow groove until finally shaking itself to pieces in your ears by the end. Muslimgauze is always evocative, but with “Drugsherpa” Jones practically gives the listeners visions. He always intended these tracks to go together (as shown by the seamless segue into “Jerusalem Knife (Wail Mix)"), but in a way “Drugsherpa” is sui generis, even for Muslimgauze.

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared on Other Music.

To call the late British underground producer Bryn Jones prolific would be a tremendous understatement. As Muslimgauze, Jones released a multitude of material, which took the shape of a constant, ever-expanding stream of tapes, CDs, LPs, singles, EPs, and box sets, a collection that has been revealed as ever more extensive since his untimely passing in 1999. With labels such as Staalplaat continuing to bring forth unreleased archival material that is every bit as exceptional in musical vision and conceptual consistency as the recordings that saw daylight during his lifetime, it remains somewhat challenging to find a proper entry point into this immensely cryptic and hard-to-find oeuvre. Luckily, the most recent, excellent reissues of classic Staalplaat recordings provide such unique opportunity.

For those unfamiliar with the master, Muslimgauze stands for a singular brand of electronica in which found Middle Eastern sounds merge with noise and oftentimes incredibly funky but nevertheless completely messed-up, overdriven beats. Inspired by conflicts in the Middle East, and often vehemently taking sides with such contested groups as the PLO and Hezbollah, Jones heavily politicized his music simply through the act of naming his tracks and album titles. Although the engagement with his subject matter was sincere, it remained at all times veiled behind a kind of introspective exoticism, as Jones actually never set foot in the Middle East, nor was he part of any of the organizations he supported from a distance.

A certain reflective mood is masterfully displayed on 'Drugsherpa', which was Staalplaat's very first official Muslimgauze release on mini-CD back in 1994, and which finds Jones in a less directly political mode. Twenty minutes long, the title track is a hypnotic, ever-shifting piece of noirish electronic music that sounds as fresh today as it did two decades ago. It's quite striking to detect the influence of this track on the great Shackleton (who has repeatedly declared himself a huge fan), and listening to 'Drugsherpa' just confirms, rather impressively, how far ahead of the game Jones really was during the mid 1990s. The rest of the tracks of this now expanded, hour-long album consist of remixes of other Muslimgauze material that was found on the same tape, and on which Jones re-contextualizes, dubs out, echoes, or simply extracts previously heard music and sounds. But the real highlight remains the title track, which slowly builds towards mind-bending momentum before fragmenting in gloriously shattering pieces.

The following appeared on Boomkat.

Oftentimes when a reissue has bonus tracks their provenance can be tangential or suspicious; in this case, they’re more like a homecoming. When Bryn Jones turned into the master for what would become 1994’s 'Drugsherpa' mini CD to once and future label Staalplaat, the label selected the twenty-minute title track, truly one of Muslimgauze’s most distinct and awe-inspiring tracks, to fill the release. The sinuous, doom-haunted “Drugsherpa” still sounds fresh today but in 1994 it was so far ahead of its time that the rest of us didn’t catch up until a decade or more later; only now does it really sound like it has contemporaries. It deserved its own space. But it wasn’t alone on that tape; and with the mini CD long since sold out, this reissue releases its siblings into the world for the first time. Unlike “Drugsherpa” itself, now restored to its original place as track three of the reissued 'Drugsherpa', the other six tracks on this now 56-minute album are all remixes of other Muslimgauze material. As usual for Jones those remixes take the songs in all sorts of directions, subtly or not; shorter, longer, backwards, dubbed out, less dubbed out, and so on. The result, as well as functioning as a kind of ad hoc compilation of material from several recent-at-the-time Muslimgauze releases (plus a remounting of “Gulfwar” from 1987’s 'Abu Nidal'), shows anew the infinite variety, multiplicity, and complexity of Jones’ work. But the darkly brooding “Drugsherpa” itself remains, justly, the center of attention here. Less directly political than much of Jones’ work, it builds up to an immense, slow groove until finally shaking itself to pieces in your ears by the end. Muslimgauze is always evocative, but with “Drugsherpa” Jones practically gives the listeners visions. He always intended these tracks to go together (as shown by the seamless segue into “Jerusalem Knife (Wail Mix)"), but in a way “Drugsherpa” is sui generis, even for Muslimgauze.

Boomkat

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Press Release/Reviews Index Release Information Back Muslimgauze

January 9, 2017