Fakir Sind & Hand Of Fatima
The following appears on Re:mote Induction.
It is a year since the death of Bryn Jones, who as Muslimgauze released an intimidating number of albums. So many that with only a handful of compilation tracks, I certainly never knew where to start. As with many artists, releases of remaining material are made available to their fans as tribute. But Muslimgauze is not an artist you scrape together demo tracks or half recorded albums - rather he recorded albums at a rate no record label could keep up with. In one month alone there were 6 albums released - attempting to get a feel for Muslimgauze I have picked up 2 of those 6. With the belief that Fakir Sind was on the mellow side and Hand Of Fatima was explosive I sought to experience the extremes of Muslimgauze through these two albums.
After several listens to both these albums I suspect I have not managed to get as far across the spectrum as I expected. Though both albums demonstrate a distinct element of the Muslimgauze sound. Hand Of Fatima features 6 tracks over 60 minutes compared to Fakir Sind's 10 tracks over 40 odd minutes - the track count and duration for starters allowing a different level of evolution and shaping. Both releases were limited to runs of 1000 with art designed by Plazm - Hand Of Fatima appropriately depicts a hand, which appears to be in a jar being preserved by a green fluid; Fakir Sind features silk screen works, the cover red and white Muslimgauze over Muslimgauze , and through the booklet birds in different forms, reflecting the album's sound.
Hand Of Fatima starts with Algerian resistance and a distorted hand slapping drum rhythm, middle-eastern voices, market place rabble, and a wind instrument - perhaps a flute. We flow into Mint Tea With Gadaffi, and the consistently walloping slaps of hand beats. In their own way resolutely hard, accompanied by an edgy bass, pounding sustained repetition - bass mixing with voice to fade.
The title track Hand Of Fatima has a more upbeat rhythm, a background of voices more pronounced. Bowed bass strings, raspy wind instrument and toots from whistles. Despite the consistent hardness of the beats the length and piercing nature of the track forms a certain vibe, reflecting life. Rapid and fast paced on one level, but inconsequential detail that flows past from a step removed. With Youseff My Medina the beats are strokes of thin wooden sticks - string sounds are loose and strummed. Up a step in pace, but easier in tone despite the moments of belligerence (hey you!). The repetition here takes on an almost hypnotic effect. Hand Of Fatima continues with Mustaffa which brings back the slapping of drumsticks - but more rapid, with a different kind of stroke. A couple of wind melodies feature, with distorted edges. Mustaffa builds dynamically then pauses, something it does to various degrees throughout - making this the most varied and least predictable track. The most electronic track with its sustained bass buzz structures.
Which leaves Arms Of Your Desire which starts quietly with a slight growth of rhythm cycles. Making this the most subdued and suggestive with false upward surges. Though each surge is more structured and in the end I think this is my favourite track on this album. Looking back I can say that in some ways Hand Of Fatima offers the extremes I'm looking for within itself. The hard rhythmic structures of tracks like Hand Of Fatima or Mustaffa contrasting the more experimental structure and minimalist form of Arms Of Your Desire.
Continuing, we move to Fakir Sind, which starts with Mumbai Vibe Garden, and the sound of mellow strings and gentle voices, tapping beats and the call of peacocks. Mixed with this is the sound of bass and other electronic, glipping additions. Zenana Of Ugly Thoughts carries the theme of the peacock, stepping the beats up a notch and adding a wailing brass. The sound here is darker in some ways, but still retains a definite vibe. With a blunt disruption the beats turn from flatter in tone, and the brass is a constant in imitation of the peacock cry. The manipulations become more frequent moving towards the 8 minute mark.
The peacocks are higher in Memsahib Of Gup And Ghee, the beats are warm and round against the skins and a voice sings in a wailing fashion. Fakir Of Gwalior starts with a relaxing bowing of string, finger taps on drums, the crickets at night. A couple of times this gets glitchy, electrical pauses ad continuations, falterings and resumptions. From there we have Lets Have More Dagga, Begum with bird twitters and we're off, like rapid beats - joined by a swirl of voice.
With a flex we have bass and drum strikes and the return of the peacocks in The Shikari Who Wore No Dhoti. A vocal element is present, but seems to be sampled, and is being manipulate to provide tonal effects, an idea that I like and enjoy. As with the rest of Fakir Sind there are glitch periods, where the track is manipulated like data packets. Hindu Kush Opium Crop starts with a dialogue, which has a hard slapping rapid beat - suggestive of action and motion. There is a presence of waspish brass/wind sound and the consistent bass structures. In the end the beats die out and the rasping wind has final prominence.
With head raised and wailing we explore Why No Dogs In Nizamabad, the voice joining the tweet of birds and the chant of drum beats. Pink Seerband emerges from a background, in a patter of sounds that grows in strength. Return of peacock calls, little chimes, and voice, against the regular bass, present throughout. The pacing a tick-tock of sound.
As an introduction to Muslimgauze, past compilation tracks, these albums both sound like good examples - with some moments which are definitely nice. However how they fit into his legacy and how they compare in quality terms is something I can not answer at this stage.
review by PTR
Re:mote Induction (February, 2000)
see also Hand Of Fatima, Fakir Sind, Fakir Sind & Azad, Hand Of Fatima & Lo-if India Abuse, Box Of Silk And Dogs, Azad, Fakir Sind & Hand Of Fatima & Fakir Sind, Hand Of Fatima, Box Of Silk And Dogs & Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Team Theme
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Fakir Sind Hand Of Fatima
January 10, 2017