Narcotic

Release date: June 10, 1997

We at Staalplaat like some confusion here and there. (ed. - Narcotic was originally intended to be the 11th release in the subscription series) And we will do what we think is right. 'Narcotic' is Muslimgauze's next release and it's our office favorite. That's why we decided to release this in an unlimited edition. Music wise 'Narcotic' continues the laid-back style of "Return Of Black September' or the more recent release of 'Gulf Between Us' (in a shorter version also apparent on 'Narcotic')

Highly uncontroversial cover on this CD: we don't want more journalists to be expelled from writing for magazines showing their love for Muslimgauze It's our option to change!

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared on Almost Cool.

Muslimgauze is yet another electronic artist that I hadn't taken the time or money to explore until recently. Admittedly, one of the main reasons I heard about the group was because of a fair amount of press that went around last year when Bryn Jones (the man behind Muslimgauze) died of a very rare blood disease at a young age. Being on an electronic music mailing list, I started hearing the name over and over and finally did a little research on the music that he created. While I was delving into this research, I not only found out that it was something that I would probably like, but that Jones was also terribly prolific as an artist. While many of his releases are now hard to find because of limited press runs, on average he released over 2 albums worth of material every year for at least the past 5. Even after his death, a 9-CD (yes, that's 9 CDs) box set is planned for release sometime around the end of 1999.

Now I'll try to go onto the music. Although Muslimgauze compositions are for the most part instrumental (electronic), there is a definite message behind the work. If you delve at all into the catalogue of work that was produced in such a short time, you'll find that almost all of the releases have some sort of middle-eastern theme, usually one of a political nature. Although I'm by no means an expert in the music of Muslimgauze, all the work I've heard definitely has a message behind it. While it's difficult to sometimes convey a political message through songs with lyrics (let along music without them), Muslimgauze manages to do it well, whether it's attacking the establishment with industrial-edged harder tracks, or identifying with an oppressor through a moving ambient track.

As an album, Narcotic does these above things and more. The opening track "Medina Flight" bangs on with a metallic sounding looped drum track that blares with distortion at some points while background voices chant out vocals nearly throughout. The track is flavored with other harsh sounds and even a few woodwind sounding instruments before subsequently breaking down and starting back in several times. "Believers of the Blind Sheikh" is a 10-minute middle-eastern sounding dub track sprinkled with live drum sounds and more occasional vocal samples of unknown conversation. "Saddams Children" leans more toward traditional instruments, but one can hear the gurgle of electronics lightly in the background.

The instrumentation of the album is amazing. When I first started seeing that Muslimgauze released so many albums in such a short amount of time, I naturally thought that the quality might fall suspect, but Narcotic is a solid piece of work that covers quite a chunk of the electronic music spectrum, although a lot of the rhythms tend to fall on a little harder side. It manages to blend ethnic and electronic sounds into quite an interesting mix. I don't know enough of the politics to know whether it succeeds on a political level or not, but I guess it's probably the point of the disc to make me want to learn.

Rating: 7.5

Almost Cool

The following appeared on Discogs.

In such a vast discography as the one associated with Muslimgauze one may easily mislead the opinion or interest, it just take to choose the wrong kind of album for start. My first encounter with Muslimgauze was disappointing in a way, the minimalism and distinctive repetition from the "The vampire from Tehran" was way too much for me back in the day, nevertheless I found exotic the introduction of oriental samples in the work, same happened with "Fedayeen" even though I could feel the hypnotic power that emanated from it. It may sound kind of out of note to talk about one album by talking about others but the point is with Muslimgauze things become more interesting in his more structured works, at least for a beginner, or someone who may be behind the more tribal based works.

Narcotic is perhaps one example of an album in both camps of the spectrum, it denotes the expertise acquired in oriental percussion by Bryn Jones after a crescent development and practice through action, numerous albums, and classics precede it and now it evidences this character part Tribal, part Ambient with shades of texturized noise, glitch details and field recordings, as result the listener is inside this intoxicant atmosphere of exotic madness, where the basic musical premise constituted by the consistent tribal beats from darbukas and tambourines contrasting radically with the eerie sounds from organic noise, distortions and minimal jams.

The images of a surrealistic desert land inhabited by the bizarre and general strangeness abounds in between the strong rhythm usage and cinematic atmosphere unbound, subsequently the decisive progression from the album increases this sensation. The listener easily gets submerged into this opium like state, succinctly guided by the beats and echoes from oriental sounds that wander in and out of the speakers and far away and so close from the mind.

Interesting and attractive the album keeps a middle ground status, half experimental and other half adapted for the tribal and linear structure common to Muslimgauze, the listener will find quite another of the many faces of this enigmatic artist.

reviewed by enfantterrible (Ayax Gudziol)
(Discogs February 10, 2012)

see also Beyond The Blue Mosque & Narcotic & Fatah Guerrilla, Narcotic, Sandtrafikar, Vampire Of Tehran & Zuriff Moussa

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