Occupied Territories, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September

The following appeared in Industrial Nation.

When we think of the work of Bryn Jones' Muslimgauze, we think of a temporally altered journey through busy streets filled with the percussive music of the Arabic culture. Jones takes these sounds and manipulates them, altering their speed and direction, creating cascades where before there was a single percussive voice, augmenting them with the addition of authentic street voices and electronic sounds. In short, he creates a whole new world built around the culture of the Middle East that he so deeply regards.

Return of the Black September is prime Muslimgauze, a series of images sketched clearly in sound. The title track is a moody assortment of drones, overlaid with the sound of struck strings (perhaps a piano), emphasised by sporadic cascades of percussive noise. The images that make up "Libya" maintain steady tempos, ranging from traditional hand drums to the echoed channel surfing of a modified high hat cymbal set, all augmented by drones, electronic effects, and additional percussion. It is what Muslimgauze is about, electronic hypnosis under the guise of traditional music.

Remixs is a montage of various musical segments, highly modified and harshened, back masked, electronically enhanced and fragmented. These works convey none of the smooth hypnosis of Bryn Jones' other works, and tends to be more annoying than enjoyable (which is distinctively different from how one usually responds to the band). Many parts of the two pieces are highlighted by tough-skinned pulsing beats, all but obscuring the Middle Eastern tempos that are the trademark of this normally superb performer. This is a first, a Muslimgauze work that cannot be recommended.

Occupied Territories is marketed as a Muslimgauze recording, but it does require some explanation. The twin-CD set is actually based upon a series of two track skeletons sent out by Muslimgauze to seventeen other sound experimenters. The trick was for each of these other artists to take these skeletons and give them flesh, utilising a combination of their own personal style, as well as that of Muslimgauze to do so. So the question remains, is this a Muslimgauze album, or compilation, or some bizarre amalgamation of the two?

The resulting twenty pieces are of mixed calibre, with not everyone being faithful to the message or the quality of Bryn Jones. The two disc consist of a number of electronic percussion ensembles, most notably the Sons of Silence, Panasonic, :zoviet*France:, Elke Dag, O Yuki Conjugate, and Human Beings (these last two being superbly augmented with Arabic vocalisations). Unfortunately, a number of artists simply felt that providing a static beat was sufficient for the cause, resulting in about half the set being outright boring.

review by Michael C. Mahan
First appeared in Industrial Nation magazine (number 15).

see also Arab Quarter, Return Of Black September, Re-mixs, Gun Aramaic and Occupied Territories, Arab Quarter, Azzazin, Gulf Between Us, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September, Arab Quarter & Re-mixs, Deceiver & Re-mixs, Occupied Territories, Re-mixs & Return Of Black September

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Occupied Territories   Re-mixs  Re-mixs Volume 1 + 2   Return Of Black September  Return Of Black September (re-issue)

January 11, 2017