Iranair Inflight Magazine

Release date: March, 2003

The title "Iran Air Inflight Magazine" refers to the Iranair civil aeroplane shut down by the American military. For the artwork we used found east European air force propaganda material and the Iran air logo.

This Muslimgauze will be hard to categorise: all is new material, pure Muslimgauze, percussive but not the dance style nor the ambient dub or distorted sound. It's much more a new minimal repetitive and dry sound, most of the music is arranged percussion and some Arab text fragments appear every now and then. This album shows strong links with the first Muslimgauze released on Bryn Jones' own label limited Records, but also clearly shows his way of working shortly before he passed away.

Again Bryn has proven to make music in a clear Muslimgauze style which jumps across a wide variety in genres.

The following appeared in The Wire.

Referring to the Iranair civilian aircraft shot down by the US military back in the day when it was still acceptable foreign policy to supply Iraq with the occasional weapon of mass destruction, the latest limited edition release from Bryn Jones' posthumous archive is a suitably hard affair. Brittle and sharp-edged, this sequence of compositions, each titled after a caption lifted from Iranair's inflight magazine, has a terse and disciplined aridity to it. The one extended moment of relief comes on "A Small Intricate Box, Which Contains Old Blue Opium Marzipan", a lilting understated piece over which voices drift impassively. With each new subscription title, Muslimgauze is further revealed as an eccentric fixed point in history, offering valuable perspectives and insights. Long may he do so.

review by Ken Hollings
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 234).
Reproduced by permission.
The Wire on-line index.

The following appeared in Vital Weekly.

With a discography counting more than 150 albums, it is pretty amazing to realise that the progression of Muslimgauze seems to be intact. Almost five years after his slipping away, Staalplaat has once again succeeded in finding materials for another masterful work of Bryn Jones (aka Muslimgauze). The album titled 'Iranair Flight Magazine' refers to the Iranair civil aeroplane that was shut down on the 3rd July 1988 by the American military, killing all 290 people on board. With that story in mind it would be easy to expect some of the more furious areas of Bryn Jones musical territory to be shining through. But actually what we are dealing with here are percussive tracks that neither seems to by stylishly dance-able nor aggressive.

Being quite minimal and repetitive in its expression the album once in while reaches a trance-inducing atmosphere further strengthened by subtle sounds of eastern instruments as well as small fragments of Arab texts. Once in a while the distorted elements penetrate the percussive soundscapes giving a raw and dry feel to the album. In all senses this is yet another excellent piece of work by Muslimgauze.

review by Niels Mark Pedersen
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The following appeared in the &etc newsletter.

Strange cover choice ­ eastern European military photos ­ but the track titles are all taken from the eponymous magazine, and there is a subtle screen print of the airline logo on the disk.

Quite typical later period Muslimgauze ­ the theme running through it all is the use of background tapes. In the first track ('Jagdeep Radio Repairs, Zarawar Singh Marg, Old Delhi, India' ­ yes, long names which I will abbreviate) we have rapid drum loops with an Indian tape playing quietly in the background ­ the rhythms break out and misstep occasionally. There are more electro-pop loops in 'Unfinished Mosque' (which the PR references to the very early Muslimgauze sound), an almost interference ting, drums and a hiss crackle. Vocal snatches and then probably a sitar which becomes clearer later, the relaxed rhythms are distorted at times, and there is a vinyl-loop ending.

Messed about 4-beat loop and flute in 'In The Bazaars', with the flute coming forward and getting blowy, and sometimes, deep inside the mi, a voice. Electro-squelch is the basis for dubby hand-drum rhythms and breaks on 'Mysore Cochin Bangalore', with stuttery sitar as well. It winds down and then returns as a more electro buzz hums and pops with a little echoed percussion for the ending. Vinyl loops appear in 'Desent With Selim Ahmed' both as scratches and music, to augment the futzy deep loop and flute, breaking and bitty releases.

The surprise track is 'A Small Intricate box' which has an almost sweet reggae rhythm (I was strangely reminded of 'Don't Worry') which is sometimes squelched, distortions and crackles pass by. But throughout there is an extended film sample (my guess) ­ first snatches of words, then some soft guitar, but the extended conversations, extraneous noises (water poured, an engine, birds, teacups) and then a long speech by the woman. It sounds French but there could be some Arabic (Algiers?). A couple of war-cries and it fades. Then 'No Maps' with distorted buzz-hum, slow thuddrums and tapping percussion, a brief sound of singing (a Mullah?) and flute: but that strange scraping drone is actually singing too, as the track rumbles on.

An enjoyable Muslimgauze album ­ it doesn't break with the mould particularly, but the combination of drums and instrumental recordings (I presume) makes for some relaxed listening.

reviewed by Jeremy Keens
originally appeared in &etc 2003_jk.
Reproduced by permission.

The following appeared in Chainlink D.L.K..

I would like to be able to say that Muslimgauze is back with his latest fatigue (he would sure have some lucid insights about what is going on in the world if he still was alive...), but at least we can enjoy some more of his previously unreleased music that is seeing the light through Staalplaat, where obviously there are plenty of tapes (I am assuming it's tapes these things are stored on because there's plenty of hiss) that are still in the dark ready to be dusted off. "Iranair Inflight Magazine" continues the tradition of semi-distorted and saturated percussions with the addition of some sparse electronics. With this formula it almost sounds more like an IDM/electro record than a world music record. The tracks are long, similar to each other, and go by with little changes. You can hear very distant things but you pretty much have to wait for the third song and its middle eastern flute-like breath instrument to find something else besides the percussive track. Half way through the record you start hearing some stereo field experimentation with un-distorted percussive tracks on the left, a distant sitar and some electronic bass on the right, the whole thing glued together by movements across the stereo field and dub-like delays. Later on, around track six, the atmosphere gets a little quieter and samples of middle-eastern language spoken female vocals are introduced. Each of the tracks is named after a page in the Iranair Inflight Magazine and the CD is limited and hand-numbered to 700 copies.

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chainlink D.L.K. (September 12, 2003)

The following appeared in Industrial Nation.

I'll be succinct for one simple reason: faced with, by now over 130 releases, there really is no need for further additions to the critical assessment of the late Bryn Jones. With each postmortem release the realization only grows how unique an artist he was. This album especially, with it's virulent percussive feel and general euphoria, highlights once again the inimitability of his fusion of the Orient and Occident. Completely new material in all; swiftly bubbling beats, fast rhythms, but without the distortion that characterized his work shortly before his death. Flowing dub, not quite ambient, instead more a mix of dance style: 1980s ping pong beats and the accelerated, hypnotic pulse of the Gun Aramaic albums. Trademark Muslimgauze, yet in newly reduced, slimmed-down form. Great.

review by Till
First appeared in Industrial Nation magazine (number 20).

The following appeared on Tiny Mix Tapes Reviews.

Muslimgauze reviews tend to be a little annoying in that writers usually find a way to avoid dissecting the album at hand. Usually I skip over the first paragraph because, in some way or another, it only mentions Muslimgauze: Bryn Jones, extremely prolific (100 plus albums), pro Palestinian, died in 1999 of a rare blood disease. His political view certainly informed the music he was making, and these details shouldn't be glossed over. But even the casual Muslimgauze listener is probably aware of these details, and now I've just fallen into the same "first paragraph trap" that I criticized other writers of. 

Like Merzbow, most Muslimgauze fans are not content with stopping at five, ten, even 20 albums. Also like Merzbow (or any prolific artist of superhuman proportions) if you dabble in an album here and there, it all may sound alike. Though fans with a vast knowledge of the catalog will tell you the albums are very much like a family of trees. All Sequoia trees look alike, yet each one is unique and grows in its own way. Iranair Inflight Magazine was made towards the end of Bryn Jones’s life and in addition to countless others (this man must have recorded about an album a week), has only recently been released for the first time. Record labels were simply not able to keep up with the prolific Jones while he was alive. 

This is a mostly beat driven album with little background noise, ambient space, or reverb. There is also no big emphasis on Middle Eastern sounds, which (and you should be figuring this out by now) is a frequently occurring theme in Jones’ politically driven music. Occasionally there is some melodic material, or a touch of the Middle East sprinkled in but it's played down in favor of beats that could best be described as very raw and closer to early Autechre minimalism than something from the World Beat genre. Hiccupping along, distorted break beats sound like they were once made from real drums, but Mr. Jones has turned the gain up way too high and ripped the drums to shreds. Since then they've been heavily tweaked, turned into glitches, bloops, and blips. A downbeat gets set, only for it to sound like someone hit pause on the CD player. Machine-like loops reminiscent of Krautrock repetitiveness suck me in, only to be shut off without warning. As the beat finally starts to seduce me and I realize I could happily listen to the same repetitive thing for the duration of the CD, the plug gets pulled and the beat is deprived of oxygen just as it finally proved it could "groove."

These elements sound like the makings of another harsh, abrasive, Muslimgauze album that could seriously test the willpower of your speakers. On the contrary, Iranair Inflight Magazine is quite manageable on a lot of levels. Picture dub, only Muslimgauze forgot to bring a keyboard and also decided to turn off the stoned reverb. Bloops and blips, stops and starts, out of sync delays; all seems appropriate for the dub genre and yet I've never felt like my head was in a blender when listening to a Lee Perry mix. In the wrong hands, these qualities could be an earache, but somehow dub smooths out all the imperfections and makes music that is warm and inviting. Although some other Muslimgauze releases would take pleasure in holding the listener's head hostage in a blender, Iranair Inflight Magazine takes unpolished fragments, and turns them into something very flowing and graceful.

With patience, what initially comes off as simple and unrewarding eventually opens up to an environment much larger than the sum of its parts. All seven tracks clock in between six and 11 minutes, so there’s plenty of time to sit back and get immersed. Compared to most late period Muslimgauze releases this is fairly average (but probably essential to any fan), which explains my 3/5 rating. Bryn Jones however, is a master of his craft and a conceptual visionary. It's certainly not a bad place to start in his enormously large body of work and compared to most music in the experimental electronica genre, it sits far above average.

rating: 3/5

review by W.C.
First appeared on Tiny Mix Tapes Reviews

see also Arabbox, In Search Of Ahmad Shah Masood, Iran Air Inflight Magazine, Jebel Tariq & Red Madrassa

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