Year Zero

Year Zero is the second album of collaborative work from Apollon / Muslimgauze, and is also Muslimgauze's last recorded work before passing away.

The album uses dark textural soundscapes and cut-ups - the sonic equivalent of William Burroughs' writings - interwoven with experimental electronic beats and pulse, ranging from mock dub to crunch drum + bass and middle-eastern patterns and sounds.

The dynamic shifts between padded eerie ambience, full-on electronica and white noise distortions give the listener a feeling of unease while the concept is unfolding over 15 tracks and 66 minutes.

A rare collaborative work from Muslimgauze, the two artists work with synergy to create a truly remarkable and powerful album.

Press release from D.O.R..

The following appeared on the Islamaphonia mailing list.

I just heard Year Zero straight through. The disc is considerably better than the first Apollon/Muslimgauze collaboration (which I really didn't like at all), this one has some really great tracks. It starts off with a very different sounding Muslimgauze which I can't really describe at the moment (I'm afraid I'm too tired and hungry right now to give it a just description.) I was very impressed and had high hopes for the rest of it but it quickly sank back to mediocrity for the next few tracks until track 7 where it kicks back into gear and from there to track 13 it just continues to pick up steam with some really fabulous tracks tucked away in the later half of the CD. The last two tracks however go a bit more downhill and although better than the first half of the disc, they aren't as cool as the rest of the disc. Highlight for me has to be the static-anthem "Souk of Perfume Cellers", I'm sure that track is gonna be playing over and over for the next few days around here. The cover art is not at all my taste but rather inoffensive albeit forgettable. The inside of the booklet is much more interesting since it looks like it is a fax sent to the guy from Apollon with the track titles and a note at the bottom which reads in Bryn's unmistakable handwriting:

USE OR DO NOT
CHANGE, SWOP, MOVE
WHAT - EVER
BRYN

FINAL THINGS SOUNDS GREAT, BEEN GOOD!!

review by Ares Solis
Islamaphonia Mailing List

The following appeared on AmbiEntrance.

While I have to confess my ignorance of Apollon (a.k.a. Martin Lee Stephenson, I learn from the D.O.R. Web site), I'm a big Muslimgauze fan from way back. With 15 tracks equalling 66'40", Year Zero purports to contain Bryn Jones' last recorded works before his untimely demise. Expect a traditional Muslimgauze blend of ethno-beats, electronics and assorted disfiguring audio processes (sometimes too much so)...

Frizzly, fizzly rhythms and sputtering cymbalism course through Lips Of Her Mentor And Henna Adorner, behind which a female's Arabic chanting is barely heard. A moody drone, sporadic beats and scattered sounds lend a sense of danger to Ornaments Inside Yussefs Souvenir Lock-Up, which eventually overtaken by the encroaching rhythm of Jerez Innermost Brothel; its buzzily bouncy opening theme abruptly cuts away to swelter in ominous near-silence; not to worry, the groove returns.

A mysterious, droning vibe and ethno-effects flow amongst the tiny, constantly pattering drum'n'bass style e-beats of Tangier Box (8:45). With only slight grungification, Camel Turning The Well Wheel rolls metallic strings, hovering synth, and steady rhythmication into a tasty morsel. More d'n'b beats are served up at the Cafe Saf Saf Orange, washed down with a slurry background of hypnotic ripples, Morse Code blips, and random clatter.

American Flag in Gaza raises the bar on intensive buzz and groove, with a bit of interwoven flute strands and determined ethno-beats. Gritty Urdu An Arabik sizzles with a bass pulse and drumbeats that have been distorted into almost-micro sounds. Further audio havoc is wreaked upon Souk Of Perfume Cellars and Marrakesh Flyswot; besides overdosing on static, the tracks also gets cut up, dropped out and hit with wildly varying sound levels. Dense shifty, noise (and ghosts of the previous track) flows through No Words from Taslima Nasreen (1:52), a cross between a mechanical rumble and strangely aquatic ripples.

More weirdness ensues with the initially beatless mass of Khost Travel Document, a darkly spiralling miasma injected with layers of grunge, various electronic effects and altered sound sources. The main theme of Jerez Innermost Brothel resurfaces momentarily as do various loungey/classical piano/strings bits. Wanky effects bend and twist the notes of Dar Ben Abdullah Merchant which are topped with sibilant cymbal crashes Closing piece Harrakat-Ur-Ansar, Speak For Us returns to firmer Muslimgauze territory, where ethno-drums are thoroughly beaten, Middle Eastern instrumentation wails and the whole shebang receives dub-style treatments.. which after a short pause, are distorted even more.

My apologies to Apollon, but my ears seem to mainly catch the Muslimgauze aspects of Year Zero.. and as such, while not one of Bryn Jones' strongest perhaps (sometimes the deconstructionist tendencies are taken too far, IMO), this collaboration is certainly worth checking into. An admittedly biased 8.5 from me.

review by David J. Opdyke
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance April 29, 2000

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January 11, 2017