Suns Of Arqa Re-Mixs Muslimgauze

release date: November 19, 2007

When Satoshi Morita introduced Muslimgauze to Suns of Arqa he had a good hunch the two musicians would form a connection. Bryn Jones (Muslimgauze) and Michael Wadada (Suns of Arqa) were already deeply immersed in the kinds of rhythmic music made far from England’s rainy shores. Jones’ fascination with the cause of Palestine found an outlet through his prolific musical output, and Wadada’s interest in Jamaican reggae and Eastern mysticism was likewise reflected in his own recordings. But they moved in different circles and had never crossed paths, despite living relatively close to one another. Bryn Jones in particular was well known for his reclusiveness and lack of curiosity about other music (and musicians), so it’s no surprise that it took a Japanese label owner to bring them together. Morita knew both men individually, liked their music enough to release it on his label Gift, and intuitively saw the potential in a collaboration between the two. He arranged an introduction in 1996, and like a spark landing on dry tinder, a musical firestorm blew up that summer. Several collaborations-by-mail were produced in the two-and-a-half years preceding Jones’ sudden and unexpected death in January 1999 from a fungal infection of the blood. The final sessions are presented today on this CD.

“Suns of Arqa Re-Mixs Muslimgauze” tips the scales at nearly 74 minutes , with 21 songs forming an unmistakable hybrid of the two bands’ styles. Wadada’s Caribbean beats pulse and flow alongside Jones’ staccato gunshot rhythms in a true blending of the two artists’ music. While it’s true that Bryn Jones is gone, we take comfort knowing that Muslimgauze lives on in the creative expression of the multitude of musicians who’s lives he touched. For Wadada, this album will stand as a lasting tribute to a friend and creative collaborator.

At Soleilmoon, packaging and presentation are never overlooked. This CD is presented in a square black folder made of sugar cane fibers, and the whole thing is covered with a translucent vellum over-wrap. Only 500 copies of this handsome CD have been made.

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared in Vital Weekly.

Suns Of Arqa - Suns Of Arqa Re-mixs Muslimgauze (CD by Soleilmoon Recordings) There was a time when I heard the music of Muslimgauze almost every day, because it was my work back then. When it was no longer my work, I didn't play it again for three years, unless I was reviewing something for these pages. I still like that small, minimal intake, but there is no necessity to keep up with everything that still sits in vaults, now, almost ten years after Bryn Jones died. My best guess is that Soleilmoon has the best filled vault when it comes to unreleased Muslimgauze music. Jones working methods were very straight forward: sampling drum bits, ethnic (Arabic) sounds and cook up a mix with electronics. Taping everything for possible release, Jones would mail off everything to his labels, Soleilmoon and Staalplaat. But not every master contained great music: some of the pieces were too sketch like to be released. Probably one of the reasons why not everything has been released. It would be a good idea, me thinks, if a dedicated producer would take the best bits and make a proper release. As such we should also see this release. Muslimgauze liked to make 'remixes' of whatever he was sent, and through the connection he had to that ever lasting, friendly Japanese force Satoshi Morita he got to know Michael Wadada, also known as Suns Of Arqa, who produces some curious mix of reggae and eastern music. In 1996 Jones created these twenty-one remixes, which are sometimes merely a curious notion, a sketch, a start but also some great pieces. Here's where the producer should have come into action: select these great moments, shape them a bit further and make that killer CD. But now it's too much a mix up of great and weak moments. Great for completists though and that's perhaps why releases like this will appear until the vaults are really empty.

review by Frans de Waard
Vital
(#619 March 18, 2008)

The following information appears on Discogs.com.

Much of this material was previously released on The Suns Of Arqa Mixes, but all of the tracks on this release have been remastered, resulting in greater dynamic range throughout. There are minor differences in the mixes on all of the overlapping tracks, such as different cross-fades, longer or shorter fades, sounds added to intros and outros, etc. Each release has unique tracks (2 on the original release and 4 on this release), totalling 23 minutes of non-overlapping material between the two.

Below is a detailed breakdown of how these tracks differ from those on The Suns Of Arqa Mixes, since none of the overlapping tracks are exactly the same. Note that the word "track" here refers to the track name, not the track index.

1 - UNIQUE TRACK
2 - 6 sec fade-in; next 59 sec same; longer main section; no outro
3 - 4 sec intro; main section 2:57
4 - Same as 36 sec section from same track on other release
5 - 9 sec "backwards" fade-in; main section 3:31; 3 sec fade-out
6 - Same track; no intro; last breakdown slightly different; outro slightly different
7 - Same track; 14 sec outro
8 - Same track; slightly different outro
9 - UNIQUE TRACK; partially appears in 'Horntid House' on other release
10 - Same track; 19 sec longer fade-in
11 - Same track; 20 sec longer fade-in
12 - Same track; longer fade-out (no cross-fade)
13 - Same track; slightly different outro
14 - 1:25 fade-in; next 1:01 same; remaining section 5:06
15 - Same track; 5 sec longer fade-in; 18 sec longer fade-out
16 - Same track; begins with 8 sec fade-out from 'Zorasta'; slightly different outro
17 - UNIQUE TRACK; partially appears in 'Horntid House' on other release
18 - Same track; slightly different intro
19 - Same track; 12 sec fade-in
20 - Same track; 7 sec longer fade-in; no outro

the majority of this information was put forth by Ty Hodson (pat on the back, lad)

The following appeared on Tokafi.

Muslimgauze: "Jah-Mearab" & "Jaagheed Zarb"
Irritating factors like development: Slowly flowing magma-versions as part of a hypnotic exchange of metaphors.

Jah-mearab

It remains a matter of speculation whether the work of Bryn Jones would have been Occidentally accepted if he had actually been a Muslim fundamentalist. Coming from the lips of a preacher, track titles like "Woman (sic!) prefer Islam" or "Turn into Hezbollah Digital Radio" sound like belligerent trench-talk, but in the hands of someone who grew up as a middle class kid in the UK and (for various reasons) would not set foot on the land he ceaselessly travelled in his music, whatever might have been a radical message got blurred into a vision which drew its creative blood from confounding ambiguity. Confusion, after all, can be a powerful emotion.

In a time, when cross-referencing sonic cultures has almost turned into a tiresome cliché and Sitar samples have made it as far as Janet Jackson albums, the kind of stylistic blend Jones prophetically pioneered can hardly be considered progressive anymore. And yet, his voice remains singular and stubbornly stimulating. It is a sensation of nervous tautness, which surrounds each and every Muslimgauze release and which has turned a music without any kind of lyrics or liner notes into voluble and urgent art concrete: Everybody will sense an agenda behind works like "Jaagheed Zarb" and "Jah-Mearab", even though everyone will come to different conclusions.

As mentioned, Jones' output itself is best characterised as recognisable rather than revolutionary. Even between these first full-length episodes of new, previously unreleased material, differences are discreet, with the devil hiding in the samples, sounds and details. If anything, "Jagheed Zarb" is the more energetic and dramatic affair of the two: Garishly distorted Bass lines visionarily hint at Dubstep, while dark Dub echoes haunt sceletised HipHop loops turning deliriously round their own axes. A lot of hidden links establish coherence between tracks, with elements enigmatically returning at later stages or pieces being reincarnated in slowly flowing magma-versions as part of a hypnotic exchange of metaphors. In immediate contrast, "Jah-Mearab" is more pure and minimal – whatever the latter may mean in the context of an oeuvre which has traditionally relied on three to four elements per piece. Mantric Tabla- and Kora-beats are at the heart of the music, which replaces melodies with textures made up of loosely layered field recordings or stupendous repetitions of the same solitary oud palpitations. Having said that, the record also hosts a couple of coolly pumping techno tracks and industrially marching electro stomps, aggressively and ambitiously sandwiched in between the sandy shores of relaxed moods-capes. Hot and feverish, the music seems to have been recorded directly on the market places of Tunis, pointing its microphone at dusty beat-boxes on sandswept summer streets.

It is hard to dispute claims that the ingredients and methods of Jones' galaxy have hardly changed over the course of his lifetime and his posthumous career. Essentially, each track consists of a continuous stream of variations of a single pattern. His tools are the techniques of a DJ – breakdowns, stereo pannings, fade-ins and -outs, muting – without ever showing an interest in building the typical tension curves of a club. His compositions, nay even his albums, don't seem to move at all, stoically marking time like a drugged-up runner on a fiery treadmill. The most suitable comparison must therefore come from the world of visual arts. Like a painter, Jones approaches his material from different angles, allowing listeners to discover the intricate interaction of its building blocks without having to worry about irritating factors like development. In fact, one could say that there is no development whatsoever to be found here, with the process of consistent reworking and decomposition effectively eradicating notions like groove, flow and themes. The same, by the way, goes for the provocative nature of his track titles and cover shots: A few pieces into these albums, every sense of political confusion is lost in the trance-inducing quality of the music.

review by Tobias Fischer
Tokafi  (January 7, 2009)

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