Azad & Fakir Sind

The following appeared in &etc.

Hot on the heels of the 9 disk 'Box of Silk and Dogs' come two more releases - 'Fakir Sind' and 'Azad' (the most recent subscription release): though with Bryn Jones' production rate, Muslimgauze fans are used to 'hot on the heels' releases. 'Fakir Sind' is actually an oldish (mid-98) recording that Soleilmoon couldn't handle at the time (due to said volume) but following Bryn's death, they are reassessing the old DATs and plan to release them. The disk sits well with 'Azad' though, as they share a common interest in peacock calls.

In one of his more concentrated recordings, Muslimgauze presents in 'Fakir Sind' a single mood which is remixed and modified over a single disk (of 44 minutes). A recurring theme is the peacock call which features in most tracks, and other birds appear when he is not around. This strange, keening creates a unity and sets the tone for the whole album. While the rhythms vary, between some languid and faster tracks, it is always a very rubbery, bass-strong impact. And also, it is a very vocal album - most tracks feature some singing looped through.

'Mumbas Vibe Garden' opens the disk, and is remixed (slower) as 'Pink Seerband' at the close. Sitar and a woman singing are threaded throughout the drum track, as the peacocks come and go throughout. The next two tracks 'Zenana Of Ugly Thoughts' and 'Memsahib Of Gup and Ghee' continue the format with the Memsahib featuring a flock of birds while Zenana has a stronger beat and a horn loop. It also has one of the harshest digital-breakdowns I have heard in Muslimgauze: the track jumps and repeats so much in the last few minutes I thought the CD was scratched.

The 'Fakir Of Gwalior' is more relaxed, with a slow drum and backwards sounds together with a cricket choir, and some dubby breakdowns at the end. The backwards sound continue on 'Let's have more dagga, begum' but this time vocal rather than instrumental. The beat is much faster, and has an electro edge which recalls some very early Muslimgauze. A vocal line emerges, but sounds more like a radio deep in the mix. The click-percussion follows into 'The Shikari Who Wore No Dhoti' together with a slow drum, peacock, sitar and voice drone, which largely collapse through the ending.

Some trademark found-conversation opens 'Hindu Kush Opium Crop', before a very fast drum enters, together with a squelched analog loop, and a horn/voice carry the track through to the very dubby 'Left Skin Of Jaalghazi' where a duck seems to have got into the rhythm loop, together with shakers and horns. Slow drums and the bird flock accompany an old man singing/chanting on 'Why No Dogs In Nizamabad'.

The focus of the album is its strengths - it provides a stable mood for listening, without the rapid changes of style heard on some albums. It also generally avoids overly aggressive or harsh production techniques, and is a pleasure to listen to with the fascinating combination of bird sounds and vocal lines.

The flock of birds is present in 'Tumeric Sahara Gaze' which opens 'Azad' with a flute loop and quite fast hand drums, which interplay throughout the track. 'Azad' is one of those Muslimgauze albums which stretch across a variety of moods and styles giving fans and new recruits a satisfying experience. And so I will go stylistic, rather than sequential: assume the following tracks are shuffled around on the disk .

'Scientist Of India Garden', 'Khalija Delicate Trance' and 'Manzarpour Sleeper' could come from the 'Fakir Sind' sessions: they feature the peacock calling over slow, dubby rhythms accompanied by flutes bells and voices in different mixtures. There are slower, languid tracks such as 'Benzoin Incense Vendor' or 'Ninety-nine Beautiful Names Of Allah' which feature flutes and 'Arab dress and walnut juice' which builds slowly and combines the birds with an old man singing.

At a different end are the more electro, experimental pieces. 'Jilala fire eater' features synth blurtings over crackles and distortions and a slow movement, while 'Musdalifa, wear your veil' is a minimal sitar and slow drum piece which breaks down, and 'Muhammad said useabag' features an machine-industrial rhythm. The untitled, unlisted track 16 has a distant fractured edge.

And scattered between these are the rapid beated driven tracks such as 'Iranian Apple Condom' (which makes you wonder about Jones' track names), 'In Indigo Hazam', 'Khalid Gun' and 'Camel Bag' which include things such as the bells and flutes, vocal loops, analog bleats and drones. Particularly interesting is 'Chad Mark' where are harmonium drone joins the drumming and then leads to an extended synth fade.

A very varied album, the tracks also range in length from a minute or two to seven or eight. Well worth seeking out for the music, but with this disk Staalplaat have taken unique/limited editions to another level. The case has the title and tracks embossed into/on them, the cover is a sheet of Arabic newspaper with 'Muslimgauze' laser cut into it, so that each one of the 1000 is different, and around half have a note from an Islamic country slipped behind the tray.

review by Jeremy Keens
Originally appeared in &etc 1.11.
Reproduced by permission.

see also Azad, Fakir Sind, Hand Of Fatima & Fakir Sind, Box Of Silk And Dogs, Azad, Fakir Sind & Hand Of Fatima & Fakir Sind, Box Of Silk And Dogs & Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Theme

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Azad Azad (digital re-issue) Fakir Sind

January 9, 2017