Muslimgauze: Last Surah

Afghanistan was the Vietnam of the Soviet empire. And the U.S.S.R. has become all the more bogged down in this quagmire because the CIA, never to be outdone, has fanned this guerrilla war by supporting the Islamic factions in the name of a good anti-communism.

In 1983, "Kabul" was released, an album with "electro-cold" accents by Muslimgauze. This LP, which follows the prototypes of Eg Oblique Graph, Bryn Jones' first project, inaugurates a long series of albums that evoke the upheavals of the Muslim world.

Veiled Sisters

Although Bryn Jones has a global vision of the Muslim diaspora ("United State Of Islam", "Lahore/Marseille"), he focuses mainly on the thorny Palestinian cause. To excess, almost to excess. With a virulence reminiscent of that of the extreme left-wing groups. The image of the Fedayeen advantageously replaces that of the South American guerrilla: dying on the tarmac of an airport is ultimately more seductive than dying in the Bolivian jungle...

Each of Muslimgauze's albums transcribes the escalation of violence that prevails in the Arab-Israeli conflict: "Fatah Guerilla", "Intifaxa", "Vote Hezbollah", "Hamas Arc"... A visceral violence that he approves with the energy of despair, going so far as to choose "Abu Nidal" as an emblematic figure for one of these opuses before paying tribute to the artificers of terrorist movements ("Farouk engineer").

Anger sometimes makes you blind. What is more, in an irony and cruelty of history, in this never-ending struggle with the Palestinians, some people belonging to the people who suffered the Holocaust begin to commit horrific crimes ("Hebron Massacre"). Worse, the Knesset has just approved torture to counter attempted attacks by suicide commandos...

In fact, far from giving in to a primal anti-Zionism, Bryn Jones is deeply revolted by this tragedy. He has chosen to bear witness to our times in the manner of a committed journalist, taking sides. This is why, in these times of political correctness, he is an exception and attracts controversy.

His music is also caught up in this spiral and becomes more and more violent. His work evolves and radicalizes in cycles. Moving from the first groping albums, with a martial rhythm and still anchored in the cold wave of the 80s (cf. "Buddhist On Fire", "Hunting Out With An Aerial Eye", "Uzi"), Muslimgauze will very quickly impose itself with environmental achievements.

Occupied Territories

Atmospheres obviously dominated by Middle Eastern percussion and sounds. From then on, he was adored by all lovers of so-called "ritual" music and by the fringe of the industrial public who did not disdain a certain form of ambient-tribal; as proposed by Jorge Reyes, O Yuki Conjugate, TUU, Vasilisk, etc.

"Staalplaat/Soleilmoon leave Muslimgauze to create the music, and Muslimgauze leave them to attempt to sell the CDs. Hard work I should think, as Muslimgauze are totally uncommercial, thank god. The collision with Extreme also forced out some good compact discs."

This configuration culminates with the albums released on Extreme: "Zul'm" being the highlight. Then, these textures soften and become even more hypnotic under the influence of a synthetic bass. The percussions are combined with sharper rhythmic sequences, almost metallic at times. Samples (excerpts from soundtracks, snippets of radio shows, etc.) bring a high-tech coloration while rooting these compositions in the explosive actuality that establishes their raison d'être: "Betrayal", "Veiled Sister".


The approach is dub ("Zealot"), but Bryn Jones will not really approach this current until late, although it already appears on some hybrid compilations (cf. "Serenity Dub"). But for the time being, just like for the techno he will touch on "Emak Bakia", it is through remixes that Muslimgauze makes his real entrance into the land of bass-music thanks to the reinterpretations of Zion Train and Extremadura on "Occupied Territories".

Hamas Arc

This double album in the form of consecration brings together Zoviet France, Human Beings, Sons Of Silence and Starfish Pool! Dub then, but also repetitive rhythms in the extension of the techno versions brought by David Thrussell aka Black Lung on "Infidel" and neurotic electronica.

Because it is now on this ground that Bryn Jones shines ("Salaam Alekum Bastard", "Arab Quarter", "Izlamaphobia"). Destructuring, saturation: he methodically disassembles his tracks, exposes their architecture: "Muslimgauze Re-Mix, Loop, Re-Edit Themselves". Often, after such processing, only digital fragments remain, sometimes no longer than a minute; like so many invitations to build our own pieces from these raw materials.

Hard, even challenging, this electronic radicalism has seduced Bernd Friedamn aka Nonplace Urban Field as well as Panasonic, LØSD, Quest, etc. Some of his productions, such as "Azzazin" for example, have analogies with the experiments carried out by d'Oval, Rioji Ikeda or the Mego team. But unlike these sonic manipulators, Bryn Jones goes through the mirror to go beyond pure experimentation.

He manages to re-arrange these "elementary particles", to re-infuse them with an epileptic groove, thus short-circuiting the drum-n-bass sphere. These latest productions are real electroshocks oscillating between neo-breakbeat and post-electronica ("Vampire Of Tehran"). These arrhythmias have earned him a place on Law & Auder's collections ("Avantgardism", "Minimalism").

Jebel Tariq

At the same time, Bryn Jones began a fruitful collaboration with The Rootsman. A dub-master who, like him, feels a fascination for the Maghreb and the Middle East. After re-formatting ("City Of Djins") and a joint project still unreleased to this day ("Amahar"), Muslimgauze started to break new ground on dub in his own way, that is to say in a chaotic, jarring way ("Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass").

Now recognized by his peers, more and more solicited for remixes, participations and various collaborations (Sonar, Species Of Fishes), Bryn Jones has been able to conquer a wider audience without making the slightest concession. Placed in perspective, his albums sketch the cartography of the main musical trends of the last two decades; offers a singular and, above all, de-multiplied vision.

Muslimgauze is unrivalled in productivity. At least one album per month, not counting the collectors' items... As a result of pragmatism, the faithful can acquire the many limited editions at a lower cost through a subscription launched with the complicity of Staalplaat / Soleilmoon. To this must be added radio sessions and sets on the internet as well as a multitude of recordings on the most diverse media; from the picture-disc to the DAT ("Satyajit Eye").


There are also incredible, crazy packaging: a ping-pong racket for the CD "Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Team Them"! But contrary to what you might think, Bryn Jones doesn't interfere in the visuals of his record covers. He leaves this to the graphic designers of the labels in question, contenting himself with affixing a scathing dedication next to the shocking visuals that adorn his digipaks.

Upcoming releases: "Observe With Sadiq Bey", "Fakir Sind", "Hand Of Fatima". Posthumous albums: Bryn Jones passed away on January 14th, struck down by a bad virus. But are there any good ones? See you again... Inch Allah!

Laurent Diouf
article published in tribute to Bryn Jones / Muslimgauze in Coda magazine in March 1999
reprinted in Wreck This Mess © Laurent Diouf / WTM Paris
translated with the assistance of Bing Translate.

Larent Diouf

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