Mazar-I-Sharif is to polite society what a dozen angry Rottweilers are to a cafe full of poodles: an explosion. The diamond collars scatter across the tiles and the fur turns red as the perfectly clipped poodle-butts are torn apart by a pack of rabid Jerry Springer spaniels. Your politically correct end-of-the-century tea party is officially OVER, and anyone thinking Muslimgauze is about to make a calculated move to new-age radio should call a taxi right now because the missiles are already in the air.
From the intense noise-and-rhythm barrage to the shocking cover image of a young boy with amputated arms, there is no part of this compact disc that will not offend someone. Yes, of course, there are groovy Middle Eastern beats, and music loops are top notch as usual, and the true die-hard fans of Muslimgauze will not be disappointed, but we expect there will be fewer of them after they hear this record.
Press release from Soleilmoon.
The following appeared in The Wire.
Ever since Bryn Jones, a.k.a. Muslimgauze, embarked on his program of releasing a new album every 35 minutes, rain or shine, it's been a little bit hard to keep up with him, but Mazar-I-Sharif is particularly worthy of note as one of the harshest records ever made this side of raw noise. The killer track is the opener, "Rezin Of Joy", which starts with a minute of quiet Arabic singing on the radio and then introduces a hyper-distorted rhythm, enhanced with what sounds like tiny castanets amplified so loud, it will take your head off if you've been foolish enough to turn your stereo up.
The rest of the album follows essentially the same formula -Middle Eastern modalities which probably mean something to the initiated, repeated over and over beneath super-distorted beats. The rhythms, especially, are nerve-frying, with unexpected cuts and surges in volume, and lots of noises that sound like a stereo woofer being torn open by a scimitar; check out the title track for a unique variation on the drum 'n' bass skid effect.
The big problem with Mazar-I-Sharif, though, is the problem with a lot of Muslimgauze: it's obvious that the music has a strong political intent (you don't put an armless boy with laser sights trained on him on your cover unless you have a point to make), but it's a lot less clear what exactly the intent is, or how exactly the music relates to the politics.
review by Douglas Wolk
This text originally appeared in The Wire magazine (issue # 175).
The following appeared in Chain D.L.K..
Usually in the reviews I write, I do not publish other people's descriptions because I don't like this at all, unless it is a short quote, yet this time I couldn't do otherwise because I do like Staalplaat's description very much!
They say: Mazar-I-Sharif is to polite society what a dozen of angry Rottweilers are to a cafe full of Poodles: an explosion. [...] Your politically correct end-of-the-century tea party is officially OVER, and anyone thinking Muslimgauze is about to make a calculated move to new age radio should call a taxi right now because the missiles are already in the air;...
Cool, isn't it? This is more or less what you have to expect from
Muslimgauze's new step into political-conscious music. It seems that he finally got convinced to use strong shocking images on his front cover (a young boy with amputated arms), in spite of the words to be found in the interview with him published on our previous issue #5. I'm glad about this change, really.. And notwithstanding people at Staalplaat state: +the true die-hard fans of Muslimgauze will not be disappointed, but we expect that there will be fewer of them after they hear this record;; I have to tell you that I even liked the musical side of this record much more than all the other ones I know (so there's one fan more in place of those who'll go..) because there is a somehow more emphasized presence and continuity in the cool groovy beats, ranging from Middle Eastern beats to "big beats", as well as mixtures of the two, from the noises and the sounds coming from that cultures to the structures created by this estimable musician.
review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chain D.L.K. Magazine (Issue #6 - February, 1999)
The following appeared in The Zodiac Chronicle.
On a sad note, Bryn, the sole soul behind Muslimgauze, died from a rare blood fungus infection on January 14, 1999. Bryn left behind a large discography (almost one hundred releases) since 1982. His work will undoubtedly remain as a landmark and an inspiration within the experimental boundaries of music inquiry. On a positive note, this latest release from Muslimgauze is certainly a surprise as Bryn has parted from the trance and ethno-ambient sounds of his earlier works. "Mazar-i-Sharif" still maintains the Middle Eastern influence Muslimgauze is known for but is portrayed more through the samples on this album (rather than the textures). Muslimgauze has taken a different approach this time by demonstrating heavy electronic beat loops (which include complex and intricate breaks) with less emphasis on the soundscapes. This album would probably do quite well on the dance floor. The tracks are bombastic and pounding. An exquisite and well-done album nonetheless. Very fine graphic design work on the tray card as well.
review by Mark Riddick
The Zodiac Chronicle
The following appears on Amazon.com.
Visionary true avant-garde music-maker.
The layered textured electronic rhythms of this CD are fantastic in how they remain -- simple -- but very complex. The repetitiveness of it, thick & thick, puts you in a, an um, thick world. One of the most exciting aspects of his music is how organically it's made. For instance, sometimes he just actually touches a wire to make the music running through it fizzle. I can't address in this review all the great ideas he has. He's good. His music is good. I hope I'm not just passing on an unsubstantiated rumor, but a great bit of information I was once told about him is that upon being asked what music he listened to, his response was to just sort of shrug & to say well nothing much really, Bach sometimes. Wild avant-garde composer & serious tabla-player, he's a whole expansive world of his own. Also this in particular is one of my favorite CDs by him from his massive oeuvre.
I X Key "burningfield" (tomorrow, April 30, 2003)
The following appears on Amazon.com.
I probably shouldn't write a review for Muslimgauze because i doubt that i could do him justice. Who has anything bad to say about Muslimgauze? Mazar-I-Sharif is an amazing CD. If you've heard Muslimgauze before then you will immediately recognize his style in Mazar-I-Sharif. It's not groundbreaking, but it should still catch and hold your interest. This CD is a mix of chaotic, distorted sounds over a gentler background. It has good beats. Harsher moments of the CD hurt the brain (not necessarily a disagreeable thing). Muslimgauze was one of the most prolific artists making electronic music, but he never made anything boring. This is a solid CD, and if you like Muslimgauze even a little bit you definitely will like Mazar-I-Sharif.
God of Hellfire (CT, USA, August 1, 2000)
The following appeared on Discogs.
The previous review for this is somewhat misleading. Yes there is some harshness with experimental distortionisms all over the place yet there is some really strong hypnotic tribal trance beats which remain long and consistent. At times these beats are the foreground over the distortions which sometimes take a back seat. This does help minimize the aggressiveness and also creates a very cohesive album. Not the holy grail of Bryn Jones but certainly right up there.
reviewed by jackthetab
(Discogs August 19, 2017)
January 4, 2020