Vote Hezbollah

'Vote Hezbollah' marks the return of Muslimgauze to Soleilmoon and Staalplaat. This CD is a departure from 1992's Zul'm (Extreme), with a rougher, more human feel to the music. Comprising just over 70 minutes of music, 'Vote Hezbollah' carries the listener on a journey into one of the world's most politically unstable regions: The Middle-East.

As ever, the principal influence behind Muslimgauze is the political situation in the Middle-East. There are no musical influences, only political facts and figureheads, for example Arafat, Gadaffi, Bhutto, etc. Such things are the starting point from which Muslimgauze music is taken. The recent events in Iraq and Kuwait have made this area the most important in the world. Quite soon every country is going to have to choose which side it is on: either to help free the people of Palestine, or to help Israel oppress them even further. The struggle for Palestinian freedom can be heard throughout the music of Muslimgauze. Indeed, there is a lot more to Muslimgauze than just a few pieces of music on a CD.

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared on the IDM Mailing List.

I was poking around my local college radio station and came across a really cool disc: Muslimgauze, "Vote Hezbollah". We got it in 10/16/93, so it's not that new, but it's very interesting. Lots of Middle Eastern chanting and drums with a very interesting arrangement and strange acidy sounds thrown in. Parts of it sound like Aphex Twin, very interesting rhythms. I highly recommend it. I noticed a couple older albums by them and the reviews on the front seemed to indicate that this latest one was a new direction for them with a much more ambient/techno feel as opposed to plain old "world music" fare. Anyone know anything more about these guys?

review by Michael J. Minnich
IDM Mailing List information (December, 1993).

The following appeared in Option.

"There's a hanging in Turkey / Two necks for the noose / One's a rightist / The other is a leftist / What the fuck / Fanatics!" screamed D. Boon in the entirety of the Minutemen's "Fanatics". He was right of course: fanatics can't be reasoned with. One unstable individual can topple a government - or start a war (Sarajevo, anyone?). That's why closed societies treat their entire spectrum of political opposition as dangerous, irrational enemies, creating a built-in justification for repression.

If the fanatic individual is hard to guard against, the fanatical movement can be a whirlwind of destruction. The dynamics of fanaticism have been acted out to horrifying results over and over in this century, but in recent decades they have been most terrifyingly and threateningly on display in the Middle East. From the murder of Anwar Sadat to the triumph of Khomeini, from the destruction of Hama to Lebanon's civil war, in the zealotry and repression of Israel, Libya, Kuwait and Iraq, the admixture of fascism, fundamentalism and fanaticism represents human behavior at its worst.

The ever-enigmatic Muslimgauze wilfully draws its inspiration from the fanatic's point of view. By way of concept, this English recording project's numerous albums rally to the side of the Middle East's disenfranchised Palestinians. While the band's motivations are opaque -are they being outrageous, or are they genuinely outraged? - you don't really get a sense of their stance until you read their album and song titles carefully, or find the discreet dedications in their liner notes. Vote Hezbollah is just another in a series of provocative moves on Muslimgauze's part.

While the rest of the packaging on this release is entirely unrevealing, those of us who get to read press materials are treated to the following blurb; "Quite soon every county is going to have to choose which side it is on: Either to help free the people of Palestine, or to help Israel oppress them even further."

If only Middle Eastern politics were so black and white. I can't say whether this statement springs directly from the mouths of Muslimgauze or an overzealous publicist, but the recent peace initiatives between Israel and the P.L.O. render Muslimgauze's viewpoint more stupid than fatuous. The enmity between Israel and the Palestinians stems from both ancient roots and modern events. How many more Palestinian martyrs will resolve the conflict? How many more machine-gunned buses, or bulldozed houses, or rocks thrown, or jet fighter raids on "terrorist bases"? Oppression and fanaticism will never improve the lot of people in the Middle East, just contribute to the cycles of hate. The only ones disappointed by the Mid-East's newest peace treaties will be the fanatics - though they'll never make peace, sadly, they have the power to break the peace. From the comfort of its safe English home, Muslimgauze has no business rooting for the radical Hezbollah fringe.

Politics aside, Muslimgauze makes music that's provocative in it's own right. Like other studio composers working with similar post-minimalist elements, Muslimgauze seems to be at the forefront of an unnamed style that points in the direction of a new and unrecognized avant-garde It's a music of texture and grace, of mystery and substance.

Ironically, the sonic content of Muslimgauze's music bears little relation at all to the events in the Mid-East. It's certainly evocative of Middle Eastern timbres and rhythms in places, but its strongest resemblance is to the offspring of Eno's ambient work: Jeff Greinke 0 Yuki Conjugate, or later Controlled Bleeding, and the droning, pulsating work of This Heat. Some dark textures set Muslimgauze apart from ambient house pioneers like the Orb, but their distinctive use of rhythmic elements could bring them a dance audience, especially if an inspired DJ could get hold of this and build upon it. Look out for a Muslimgauze onslaught; this is just one of numerous releases and reissues by the band slated far the late part of this year.

review by Scott Becker
This text originally appeared in Option magazine (issue # 53).
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The following appeared on Concept.

The return of Muslimgauze to Soleilmoon. This album is a total success. All is more worked out. Rhythms are measured out more learnedly and drag us in to the deep and present Orient. This album is indispensable.

review by Cyrille Sottile
translation by T @ The Edge with the use of Power Translator

The following appeared on the Brian Eno mailing list Nerve-Net.

I have listened to the album "Vote Hezbollah" many times, and try as I might to understand it, I can't quite figure out why the Arab-tinged, instrumental, rhythmic, formless pieces have the effect they do. There's something very special about this album, though. It's working with its own inner logic.

review by aheward@ccit.arizona.edu (e-mail address is no longer valid)

The following appears in All Music Guide.

Starting with the technological throb of "Bazoft Rope" (the title of the first two tracks, a common Muslimgauze touch)  a techno pulse and synth cymbal loop pushing along some unidentifiable instrumental texturing  Vote is at once both business as usual for Bryn Jones and a slight refining of the basic impulse at the heart of the music. The application of rhythms throughout is much more basic than the approach used on many previous releases; while the layering of the various percussion and drum patterns  in this case overwhelmingly electronic or sampled from other sources in origin  is still detailed, the tracks don't feel as complex or as striking as on earlier albums like Zul'm, with the semi-exception of the second "Ishmael Tongue" at the album's end. On the brighter side, Jones' dub-derived technique of using echo as a compositional approach, not to mention the sudden eruption of musical notes or other sounds in a track, comes to the fore very well here. The first "Ishmael Tongue" captures these elements excellently in a rushed, evermore intense performance, while "Tuareg" rolls along with a sampled percussion loop surrounded by a variety of constantly shifting and returning instruments and motifs. Other tracks of note include "Zion Poison," with its predominantly ambient start as a low-level percussion track slowly rises, fades, and then reappears; and "Satyajit Eye," a collage of various mysterious sounds with only the slightest of whirring rhythms and very occasional booming drumbeats. The result sounds like a back street from Blade Runner come to unexpected life. The second "Muezzin Farsi" deserves a mention as well for its strong, up front energy and careful beauty.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

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Vote Hezbollah  Vote Hezbollah (re-issue)

January 11, 2017