Box of Silk and Dogs, Fakir Sind, Hand of Fatima & Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Theme

The following appeared in Listener Magazine.

Muslimgauze Legacy Strengthens after Bryn Jones Sudden Passing A Tribute to the Art of Bryn (Muslimgauze) Jones

The recent passing of the genius that is Muslimgauze, Bryn Jones has yet to slow the release of new material one whit. In fact, a barrage of post-mortem CD's have recently hit the streets, with promises by Soleilmoon and Europe's Staalplaat, of five years worth of material still to come. The question -soon to be answered- is why the material was not already released? No matter, as Muslimgauze is so far ahead of the competition that most artist's are still trailing behind work recorded a decade ago.

Muslimgauze first rose from the 'Decade of Greed' with the inaugural release in 1984 as an answer to the unrest in the Middle East. Jones' style began as a percussion-heavy, dark, brooding and hypnotic form of Dark-Ambient and took-off in several directions at the beginning of the 90's. Now his work had the fury, frustration and hopelessness of war imbedded within the complex sound-sculptures. Though it reached a pinnacle of cacophony with the difficult listen of 'Izlamaphobia', his music also explored a beautiful side, as witnessed with the 1994 double CD 'Veiled Sisters'. The abstractions and sound crafting of 'Gun Aramaic' and (almost) bachelor-pad coolness of 'Zuriff Moussa' were but a few of the avenues that Jones tackled and conquered. Most interesting was that he never used samples or computers, stating that he liked "a hands on approach" and "much preferred analogue to digital". One thing's for sure; with a backlog of well over one hundred recordings, there is much to digest.

Finally, Bryn knew his way around the studio, producing sonic refinements that stand up to any Audiophile recordings. Muslimgauze recordings have a holographic, richly textured sound that makes it a double treat for special listening sessions.

The first CD reviewed here, 'Fakir Sind', is representative of Jones' gentler, ambient side. Haunting peacock calls are pitched against Mid-East hand-percussion and cooing vocals. This timeless oasis of sound is a perfect foil for those that find most New-Age too saccharin, the Glitch movement too a-musical and Progressive too redundant. 'Fakir Sind' combines traces of all three, yet combines them in a totally fresh, neoteric fashion.

'Hand of Fatima' has a sound, which is diametrically opposed to 'Sind', with its angry schizoid-beats, lunch-loosening dropouts and distorted 'she's-ready-to-blow' electronic effects. Those not fortunate enough to resolve the recording properly might be fooled into thinking their home playback system has gone belly-up. The audiophile that has taken the time and care mandated by a good set-up, won't be disappointed, as the more data you can retrieve, the more absorbing Muslimgauze's tricky knob-twiddling feats can be appreciated. When Bryn puts the hammer down all hell breaks loose. Animals and small children will be amazed and bewildered and your chest filled with pride as tanks rumble through the 'sweet spot', ricocheting pings of electronics bounce wall to wall and phat, juicy bass lines clear the shelves of pesky knick-knacks. Your innocently confounded listening guests, jaws slack, will applaud its substitution for the latest Madonna record.

The 'Box of Silk and Dogs' is the most ambitious Muslimgauze release to date, a nine CD foldout, storybook format that had me immediately transferring the disks to their respective jewel boxes (I provided). I must say although packaging of 'Gauze has superseded almost any other music in both originality and inventiveness (table-tennis paddles, raised lettering on the jewel boxes etc.) making them 'objects d'art', they can be, at times, cumbersome and altogether too frail. I still prefer it to the 'jewel box with a wisp of paper enclosed' format which I personally I feel represents an inadequate effort at best. The design team responsible for Muslimgauze releases (thankfully) makes an effort to produce a substantial package.

The music is the thing and 'Box' doesn't disappoint in the least. It is, in truth, a requisite purchase any serious enthusiast of Bryn's Magic-Carpet music, a set comprising hours of textural delight. Here all aspects of his music are represented and the overly distorted and acrimonious 'West-bank' contingency is kept to a minimum. The sonics are uniform, with state-of-the-art detailing presented throughout its entirety. From the delicate, almost subliminal beauty of 'Zuriff Moussa 3' (which differs completely from the original 'Zuriff Moussa'), to the abstract, contorted sounds of disc one, 'Hindu Kush On', Soleilmoon Recordings has given fans a mother load to chew on. They have obviously poured much thought into producing this work. The end result is a balanced, concerted effort that summarily visits all of the developing aspects of the emerging sound world from this late great percussionist and mixologist. Kudos to both artist and label for a task well done.

The packaging of the 'Iranian Female Olympic Table-Tennis Theme' is a work of art in of itself, an actual 'Table-Tennis' paddle, festooned with a silk-screened portrait of the "Team", wrapped in traditional Muslim dress, only their eyes visible. This is Muslimgauze's finest Trance piece. It is, in fact, the only composition that he recorded as such. A deep, pulsing, static-filled, albeit gentle, thirty-three minute chunk of hypnotica-electronica. Although visitors seemed to feel there wasn't enough 'going-on', I personally cannot find music laid back enough, so naturally this CD, with its subtle approach entranced me. This is definitely a big shift in Bryn's direction and one I welcome. My only wish were that I had the capability to loop it into a continuous piece that I could trance on for hours at a clip. Sonically the CD is monstrous with enough bass to rattle the hapless cars (with booming systems themselves) that innocently pass by. It feels good to give them a (harmless) taste of their own medicine for once. Bryn, you will be greatly missed.

review by Glenn Hammett
Listener Magazine
© 1999

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

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Box Of Silk And Dogs Fakir Sind Hand Of Fatima Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Theme
January 9, 2017