Muslimgauze

The following appeared in the Other Music Update.

I believe I'm finally starting to catch on. Two years ago, Bryn Jones very cleverly faked his own death. Already a monstrously prolific artist, this ruse allowed him the freedom to take his music to the next level, and, unencumbered by earthly expectations, he shows no signs of letting up. For those who prefer their doses of Muslimgauze down and dirty comes another limited-edition (1000) gem, a wire-to-wire static-fest populated by frequent and unnerving sonic-dropouts, inscrutable fades and ethereal voices. Having heard all of his 125-opus (and counting!) catalog, "Muslimlim 028" is truly exceptional even by Jones' high standards, embarking from the classic "Narcotic," soaring onward into territories occupied only by his own bad self. Highest recommendation!

review by JG
Other Music
(February 21, 2001)

The following appeared on the Recycle Your Ears.

This untitled CD by Muslimgauze is the 126th releases under this name (yes, you read well). Bryn Jones is still dead, but Muslimgauze CDs pop every month on a lot of labels, including in the subscription series on Staalplaat, like this one.

The 10 tracks of this CD are Muslimgauze pure: repetitive loops of Arabic drums going on ad nauseam and enriched by some oriental melodies. The sound is gritty and dirty, like often with Muslimgauze, and fans won't be disappointed at all. The particularities of this work lie, in my opinion, in the use of samples of females voices on several tracks, more prominent than on several others Muslimgauze CD I know. Moreover, I think that the recording quality of these work could have been a little better. Like all the material released since Jones' death, this was more or less still at the level of a demo, and it's highly probable that he would have re-recorded parts of some of these tracks before releasing them (the bass have a tendency to saturate, for example on "Mumbai Dook").

Apart from this, these 10 tracks are good, catchy and hypnotic like only Muslimgauze material can be. Like the 125 releases than came before and the numerous ones that will follow, this bear the specific mark of Bryn Jones' talent. No big surprise, but no disappointment once again. 

review by Nicolas Chevreux
Recycle Your Ears (March 12, 2001)

The following originally appeared in &etc.

But before re-joining the new, we pass through another chapter of a different book (we do sometimes try and put a narrative flow to these reviews). A new release in the Muslimgauze limited series, this one is a simpler production - a standard jewel case with red-themed pictures of a village, only Bryn Jones' handwritten 'Muslimgauze' across the front, suggesting that the album is either untitled or perhaps self-titled No details about the recording, just the music. And I would have liked more details as this is, to be honest, somewhat disappointing.

In a lighter moment I once drafted a review about a Muslimgauze limited edition called 'The Sound of Music'. This was a tape found in the back of Bryn Jones' cupboard, the title scrawled on it. It turned out to be a copy he had made of that soundtrack - the conceit was (thanks to Borges and Menard) that by listening to the vinyl surface chatter and the decisions he had made not to alter the recording, we reheard the soundtrack through his ears. Well, the opener 'Majik Hands Of Abdul Qadir' reminded me of that imaginary disk. It sounds almost like a Hindi pop song with female vocal, sitar, birds singing and tabla which has been replayed through a dodgy system: there is a surface interference hum, passages where a connection becomes loose and some tracks disappear, bursts of static. It fades right away at one stage before returning for another couple of minutes of parts reappearing briefly before fading again. Some typical Muslimgauze playfulness.

The next few tracks follow a similar line, though less fitful. The drums are ever-present and there are quite a few vocal lines. Ever-present is distortion surface buzz which pulses with some elements, but it is hard to tell if it is a conscious addition or a fault, or serendipity which was incorporated (or at least not removed). Drums are distorted and played with, and the pieces are beaty and enjoyable, with more pulsing affects, but they don't add much to the Muslimgauze oeuvre. Some highlights are the sitar of 'Imam Ali', a lovely bass/tabla duet on 'Mumbai Dook' with distant voices, 'Youssif Gujarti' where voice fragments singing a fast scat song to drums and flute, a more aggressive industrial feel to 'Bandar Abbas' and the delicate vocal line in 'Madras Carpet Boy' which I am sure we've heard before.

With 'Namiki An Wadda' things take a more interesting turn - this is a more ambient piece where the buzzing has been used to provide the main rhythm which entwines a rubbery solo drum, a looped vocal and simple harmonium. A subtle and beautiful piece, where the elements work together. The long 'Three Papiermache Efiji Of Bishan Bedi' starts life as a typical track from this album: tabla, buzz and distorted vocal. It shifts slightly a minute in, becoming a flowing beaty piece, then shifts rapidly at four minutes as a harmonium enters, the drums drop out, there is a pause, and then another Hindi pop-duet, treated somewhat like the opener. The voices, drums, bell are chopped, drop out, fade and distorted, or joined by the chorus. This time it seems to work better - as the track progresses the vocals gradually fade-distort into the background and the messed around drums win the foreground before a buzz-looped fade before a final dying voice. 'Knot On This Jasmine Rug' and '.V.H.F Tamil Tigers' return to the more familiar drum and distortion, though there is some effective edgy harsh synth on the final track, which take the album out in almost noise.

I don't think my Muslimgauze ear is jaded, but this is the least positive review I have done. It is not a bad album, just doesn't seem up to scratch to me, especially with the hum: which is why I would have liked a bit more info about its origin - was it a final version, a draft or whatever. It is definitely an appropriate Muslimlim (where 'Baghdad' for example could have been a mainstream release). There are enough highlights for the fan or the more interested listener, but not a starting point. (See bulk back issues for other reviews).

review by Jeremy Keens
Originally appeared in &etc v2001_05.
Reproduced by permission.

The following originally appeared in Vital.

Despite his slipping away in the earliest days of 1999, Bryn Jones still remains as one of the important profiles on the experimental scene. The stream of exciting ethno-electronics from Muslimgauze seems endless, thanks to Staalplaat and Soleilmoon. Mostly built around tabla-drumming, the album is quite percussive with plenty of processed vocal samples and atmospheric wind instruments. The compositions are saturated by noisy occurrences that make the album as a whole belong to some of the harsher expressions of Muslimgauze. First of all because of the suppressed white noise that hides underneath the main part of the sound picture. But also the distorted outbursts that sometimes penetrate the music. Everyone who appreciated some of the harsher moments from the "Box of silk and dogs" might enjoy this album too. Despite the lack of title, the album could well easily end up as a remarkable footprint in the giant catalogue of Muslimgauze.

review by Niels Mark Pedersen
Originally appeared in Vital #273.

The following appeared at Electrorage.

With no recording date and no title, the new Muslimgauze's release might upset few people, but this limited release (part of Staalplaat's limited subscribers series) can easily be considered as one of the best Bryn Jones' postmortem work to date. Probably part of his 1998 recording sessions, due to the up-beat flavor similar to the Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass album, "untitled" is fuzzy and dirty.

Very rhythmic and with constant loops of percussion, Imam Ali is one of the strongest track of the release featuring gorgeous Arabian female chants with subtle electronic dub background, which is strongly predominant on the following piece Mumbai Dook, another excellent track. Madrass Carpet Boy is an archetypal Muslimgauze track, an amalgam of noise bursts and overdubbed looped percussion with distant and broken Arabian chants echoing through the wall of sound.

Compared to other of the recent releases like Sufiq from Soleilmoon, this untitled and limited release is closer to Jones' latest productions with strong emphasis on the electronic dub and noise elements of his music. The inspiration found in his compositions and the aural explosion behind it is the driving force of Muslimgauze.

A world where fury and beauty are in a constant battle, it's never too late to fall in the world of Muslimgauze and "untitled" could easily be a great introduction evoking an unique character which was Bryn Jones; immortal, like his music.

review by Final Man
Electrorage

The following appeared in Freq E-zine.

What might as well have the tag Muslimlim 028 attached for convenience's sake continues the series of subscription-only releases of the remaining Muslimgauze back-catalogue in ever-more uprooted electronic form. Join the list and collect the lot, as funds allow; whatever will happen when there are no more master tapes in the legacy? Perhaps then it'll be necessary to stick the whole lot into a series of CD players and let them shuffle on for eternity?

Whatever, this CD holds up to the latter era Muslimgauze template of noisy interference slammed across the stereo mix with face-slapping glee on top of seemingly endless percussion loops. There's still the Dub inflection there too, and extracted radio voices echoing ghostlike to snap the focus back to a Middle East and Asia where the strife convolves yet further still. These voices demand to be heard against the crushing wail of bombs, tear gas and a largely indifferent media cacophony of established facts in the alleys and market places of Jerusalem and in the big stick-enforced no-fly zones, and Jones was always one to give them an airing, however laterally.

Radical, perhaps not so much for Bryn Jones' oeuvre, but well enough for everyone else.

review by Antron S. Meister
Freq E-zine

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

And here we go again with Muslimgauze. Almost 150 releases in 20 years (this would be no. 127). After a series of sold-out limited edition releases (such as the four LP box set called "Tandoori Dog", a nine CD box called "Box of Silk and Dogs", the "Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Team Theme" CD packed on a table tennis paddle etc.) for which there is a subscription plan with discounts available from Staalplaat, this untitled CD (Muslimlim 028) with a red-filtered picture of people around a fire on the cover, presents ten songs with repetitive low-freq dub/d'n'b electronic bass lines, minimal original percussion, some other more electro-percussive patterns, enchanting middle-eastern female vocal lines, occasional instruments that sound like an Indian sitar or a flute and this pretty much constant distortion in the background. The entire album has this lo-if thing going. I don't know if that is a choice (you never know what people do or intend to achieve with their records when you deal with experimental music) or if it is just how these records were found/maintained/archived after his death. Besides the permanent thin static in the background (like if you were listening to a poor quality radio station or to streaming highly compressed MP3 or real audio files...) there are distant things you almost can't hear and especially in the first song there are these extremely annoying interference (the sound gets very loud all of a sudden for just a second and then goes back into a volume that you thought was normal level, but that is probably a lot attenuated if you consider these peeks that come and go as your normal 0dB level). Also the sounds sometimes peeks and distorts or goes to the left side of your stereo speakers for a bunch of seconds... It's very weird, but considering that the bass line pretty much seems constant it would make sense if they told me that it's been overdubbed or that those spikes are intentional... Anyway, this is it. I guess you can consider this to be the normal Muslimgauze playing with distortion as if it was another musical mean to experiment with, pushing minimal percussion patterns to the edge of saturation, using subtle disturbances as a tool to stress people's listening experience and pushing the limits one step further, or maybe I should say 5dBs up! It's hard to relate to Muslimgauze's discography in terms of "evolution" since we (or at least I) don't really know whether this record is old or new, if you know what I mean... But my last thought definitely goes to the Middle-East, where blood-baths in the name of a dead Christian god, western civilization, financial power and world domination are taking place every day for the past decades and nobody cares. Nobody knows what Muslimgauze would have to say about it... And please let's not forget that was the very thing his music was inspired by and was all about... Let's not think for a moment that Muslimgauze is just music In fact it's so much more than that, so much that lately, with all what is happening, he would probably be inspired for the rest of his life, if he only was still alive... Let's hope the madness stops and ALL people learn what respect is, how to use it and act with a little more intelligence to put an end to this useless and bloody conflict.

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chainlink D.L.K. (May 9, 2002)

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Press Release/Reviews Index Release Information Back Muslimgauze

January 11, 2017