Zealot (CD)

The following appears in All Music Guide.

At the time of its release, Zealot attracted attention mainly due to a production fault; since the second disc was manufactured with distortion and the original DAT had already been taped over by Bryn Jones, he called a halt to further pressings and turned it into a limited edition artifact. Seen strictly as a musical release, Zealot is a solid double-disc effort in which Muslimgauze begins to more fully embrace rougher, hip-hop related rhythms, still mixed with an ear for the power of dub's echo and mysteriousness, as well as the predominant flow of Arabic and Muslim musical traditions throughout. The lengthy opening track "Baksheesh" sets the stage well on this front, with its minimal, deep bass-lines and sudden interruptions in the shuffling beat. Other songs worthy of note in this vein include "Dacoit of Sin," with its bird song samples and sitar-like drone over a loping drum loop; "X-Tract," anchored by a curious, compelling rhythm that sounds partially like a breath being taken; and the slow-as-it-goes but still sharp "Arabskin." Briefer, more ambient-skewed tracks like "Poona Eunuch," the droney, mysterious "Thar," and "Pyre of Female," with a shimmering series of string melodies performed over a straightforward rhythm, help leaven Zealot excellently. What distortion there is on the second disc is relatively unnoticeable to a casual listener, outside of a general tinniness on a number of the tracks (though this could easily be intentional) and a general spikiness in a few songs toward the end of the disc, such as the otherwise quite wonderful "Sansi." While it can be a bit annoying, such minimal distortion doesn't take away from the great feel of the performances throughout.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

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January 11, 2017