Iran, Zul'm, Infidel and Salaam Alekum, Bastard
The following appeared in DXM zine.
When one country invades another, it is usually punished. However, according to the band Muslimgauze, Israel has gotten away with a breach of every human right there is and is continuing to do so. After every significant political event usually caused by Israel; Muslimgauze responds. Muslimgauze's intentions are to clearly convey outrage over injustice, and to get others to examine what is going on in the Middle East through the medium of their music and political cover art.
The main solo musician behind the ethno ambient, experimental band Muslimgauze is Bryn Jones. His decision to make music came from the Israel invasion of Lebanon, Gaza, and the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1982. He has since then released some 40 albums. When asked if Jones is a Muslim, he responded, "I'm non religious. It just brings so much trouble. If other people believe then it's up to them, but it's not for me. You don't have to be a Muslim to appreciate their situation." Jones resides in Manchester, England, and has never been to the Middle East. He claims that he can't visit an occupied land until it is free. Looking at the totality of what Israel has done, Muslimgauze expresses complete animosity toward the state of Israel and its people. The future state of the Islamic world should be Palestine's freedom restored with Jerusalem as the capital. He also sees a complete displacement of the entire state of Israel. "The sooner the better. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have taken Israel on while the P.L.O. talks. They are funded by most Arab states I should think. Most certainly Syria and Iran." There is an early CD entitled The United States of Islam. This seems to hint at a common unified Arab-Asian military alliance against the West. Whether something like this will ever happen is unlikely since they all have their own political interests. Muslimgauze doesn't see this alliance as likely or the conflict in Palestine as being resolved any time soon. They plan on continuing to make music until it is.
The name Muslimgauze refers to the hijab Muslim women wear. The overall sound of Muslimgauze is a very rhythmic, hypnotic ambience. Quite often traditional Middle Eastern performers and Arabic voices are accompanying the music. As always, Muslimgauze recordings are inspired by significant political events in the Middle East. Muslimgauze's experimental music is hard to identify with just a single track and must be taken in as a whole. Small doses of Muslimgauze can be very effective, but its not very likely to hear many single tracks that work well on the radio. Other than Middle Eastern themes Muslimgauze is completely isolated from the musical world. They have been influential to many musicians, but they don't listen to other peoples' music. It is almost impossible to review the band's music and not respond to the powerful pro-Palestinian covers.
The following are some of the albums that I would recommend to those not familiar with Muslimgauze.
Iran: Iran, which is Muslimgauze's first CD, was influenced by the politics of Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iran. Where as his new work seems much more dedicated to extremist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Not surprising, since this is a very dated CD I haven't been able to find any reviews on it. There is quite a bit of text inside, but unfortunately it's all in German, however it does have some impressive photographs. The first two tracks seem most menacing with an incessant drumming fading in and out. The third track Intifadah is a mysteriously gorgeous piece. There seems to be four versions within the same song, ending finally with very natural elements. In regards to the Hussein regime's stance toward Iran, Muslimgauze had this to say: "I support Iran, so when he (Hussein) attacked Iran I was hoping he would get beat. But the West gave him arms so that he could beat Iran which he didn't do and he came back to haunt them."
Salaam Alekum Bastard: Some people I talked to agree that this is one of the best Muslimgauze releases. The songs are more distinct, but flow together. A pretty violent release over all. There is also a shortened version of the Hebron Massacre that is a pretty intense buildup of aggression. However, if it is able to be found, I would recommend checking out the Hebron Massacre CD.
Zul'm: This CD is possibly a high point in Muslimgauze's career. I find this innovating CD very ethnic-sounding, almost as if many of these tracks are traditional Middle Eastern themes. Perhaps part of the reason is the guest musicians Said Nasser on Arabic percussion and vocals and Zorawar Singh on Indian percussion and vocals. Also there are additional keyboards by Mark Lawrence, which gives this release an even higher trance-type sound. What is really nice about certain songs is that it's hard to tell where the traditional music ends and where the Western music begins. "Zul'm" is derived from the name "Zulkifl," the Muslim prophet whose name means fate. This CD was dedicated to Palestinians killed in Kuwait.
Infidel: This hypnotic release broadens Muslimgauze's audience. This is a very appealing remix CD that originally captivated my interest in Muslimgauze. A great jumping-on point for those who are interested in the techno-industrial scene. There are some incredible danceable remixes that maintain the feel of the original song. Five of the remixes are of Infidel from the album Citadel. Fakir is a stripped-down version, that originally appeared on Zul'm and Salaam Mecca is a previously unreleased track from Intifaxa. And the CD ends with a totally mellowing track called Intifaxa.
There are a few other CDs worth mentioning as being highly recommended: Hebron Massacre (limited to 2000 copies), Vote Hezbollah, Occupied Territories, and Drugsherpa.
These are most of the Muslimgauze CDs that I have heard enough about to recommend. Muslimgauze is an incredibly fascinating band that is made even more interesting by their strong support for groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad. Palestinians have had everything taken from them. These groups are nationalists of a nation that does not yet exist. These people are striving to be in control of their own lives. Muslimgauze helps bring information forward about their struggle.
review by Jason Rudolf
This review originally appeared in DXM zine Issue 2
see also Infidel, Iran, Salaam Alekum, Bastard, Zul'm & Iran, Bhutto, Hebron Massacre, Drugsherpa & In Search Of Ahmad Shah Masood
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November 4, 2020