Mullah Said

Latest instalment in the limited edition series. Trance Arab vibes of laid back dubby styled music.

To add to the relaxed feel of this CD it comes it comes in a raw board digipak with nice images from the Arab world - no harshness or aggressiveness this time around.

Press release from Staalplaat.

"Those not familiar with Jones' style, will listen slack-jawed at the shear anticipatory nature of his sound collage. The five lengthy tracks are based on hypnotic and somewhat menacing grooves: a repetitive dub bass beat, waves of Middle Eastern strings and voices, layers of building hand percussion. Each track is respective but the washes of sound/percussion come and go often creating a sense of motion and change. All of the tracks are similar and even share elements. Mid-East tension is so accurately captured through the use of the regions instrumentation (especially percussion), sinister electronics, samples of men chanting, women crying, sounds culled from the horrors of war, and occasional angry distortion that the listener's listener will be transported to the belly of the beast.

'Mullah Said' displays two aspects of the work of Muslimgauze. Firstly, musically, it is in the delightful drifting ambient vein. The percussion is mainly acoustic hand drums - providing a rhythm of aural features - the trademark shimmering string sound heard on a number of releases is much in evidence, rhythms are generally slower, there are lots of samples of people speaking in conversation, markets wherever. 'Mullah said' opens the disc with the lovely mix of these sounds. 'Every grain of Palestine sand' continues the mood, with a slightly faster tempo, and more emphasis on the beat. But it soon locks into a mesmeric lassitude as various effects echo or smear the sounds, drums come in for short moments, different string sounds enjoin the play. 'Muslims die India' follows the mood though the voices seem darker, sadder, and then comes 'Every grain of Palestinian sand' followed by 'Muslims die India'. Yes - not a typo, these tracks are repeated. Muslimgauze trend - to remix himself. Prime Muslimgauze middle eastern ambience - if you like that side you will love this album. The final track is short and different, a crackling ground over which a singer chants a song interrupted by machine-gun percussive bursts - 'An end'."

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared in Ambience.

'Mullah Said' displays two aspects of the work of Muslimgauze. Firstly, musically, it is in the delightful drifting ambient vein. The percussion is mainly acoustic hand drums - providing a rhythm of aural features - the trademark shimmering string sound heard on a number of releases is much in evidence, rhythms are generally slower, there are lots of samples of people speaking in conversation, markets wherever. 'Mullah said' opens the disc with the lovely mix of these sounds. 'Every grain of Palestine sand' continues the mood, with a slightly faster tempo, and more emphasis on the beat. But it soon locks into a mesmeric lassitude as various effects echo or smear the sounds, drums come in for short moments, different string sounds enjoin the play. 'Muslims die India' follows the mood though the voices seem darker, sadder, and then comes 'Every grain of Palestinian sand' followed by 'Muslims die India'. Yes - not a typo, these tracks are repeated. This is the second Muslimgauze trend - to remix himself. On a number of releases there are tracks with the same title, sometimes called part 1 and 2, and usually they are about the same length and listening indicates they are versions of the same song. With the two here, the samples occur at about the same time, the instrumentation is similar, and what we get is subtle variations - different effects, placement of instruments in the mix etc. This leaves us with a 50 minute suite of prime Muslimgauze middle eastern ambience - if you like that side you will love this album. The final track is short and different, a crackling ground over which a singer chants a song interrupted by machine-gun percussive bursts - 'An end'. For those who have difficulty getting the limited editions, Staalplaat will be releasing 'Observe with Sadiq Bey' which is said to be in the same style.

review by Jeremy Keens
This text originally appeared in Ambience magazine March, 1999.
Reproduced by permission.

The following appeared on The Raging Consciousness Desk's Bakers Golden Dozen For 1998.

Music: 8 Sound: 10

Sadly, Bryn (Muslimgauze) Jones passed away in the first few weeks of 1999. However, in addition to at least 100 other titles, he left us this over-the-top production, a high-impact recording that while musical, has enough abstract excitement to put a smile on any adventurous listeners face. Those not familiar with Jones' style, will listen slack-jawed at the shear anticipatory nature of his sound collage. Mid-East tension is so accurately captured through the use of the regions instrumentation (especially percussion), sinister electronics, samples of men chanting, women crying, sounds culled from the horrors of war, and occasional angry distortion that the listener's listener will be transported to the belly of the beast. This is not the amusical, noisy side of 'Gauze, but a rare, beautiful recording that is at times quite sad. This is also one of the most brutally dynamic and open (read; no boundaries). If your system resolves this one, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Hand numbered edition of 1000 with a sleeve that made our toes curl.

review by Glenn Hammett & Steve Taylor
The Raging Consciousness
© 1999

The following appeared on Mark Weddle's CD & Live Show Review page.

Overall impression: excellent.

Bryn Jones unfortunately passed away this past January but the music he is so well known for is thankfully still being released at the same feverish pace as prior to his death. "Mullah Said" is a Staalplaat subscription series limited edition release (1000), the idea being to get as much of Muslimgauze's extensive work out to those who desire it and insuring that nothing is missed. I've managed to collect a few dozen Muslimgauze albums/singles/EPs over the past several months and this one has become one of my favorites. The style of this disc is what I'd call mellow, beat driven ambient dub. The five lengthy tracks are based on hypnotic and somewhat menacing grooves: a repetitive dub bass beat, waves of Middle Eastern strings and voices, layers of building hand percussion, etc. Each track is respective but the washes of sound/percussion come and go often creating a sense of motion and change. All of the tracks are similar and even share elements. There are 2 versions of "Every Grain.." and "Muslims Die.." that are basically just remixed versions of the same track ... not drastically different from one another but enough to make them worthy of repeated listenings. The first "Every Grain.." is more beat driven and aggressive whereas the rest of the tracks have a slower and more ambient flowing feel ... plenty of beats/bass in each track though. "An End" has a smattering of percussion with a woman singing and an occasional male voice that slowly fades out bringing the journey to an end. I've been very pleased with almost all of the Muslimgauze I've managed to collect so far, but there's something special for me about the longer shifting tracks that appear here as well as on other releases such as "Hebron Massacre", "Gulf Between Us", "Sandtrafikar" and "Arab Quarter". As with the majority of Muslimgauze releases the artwork on the "Mullah Said" digipak is first class: another photographic glimpse into the lives and history of the peoples of the Middle East. Hopefully all 1000 haven't already been claimed ...

review by Mark Weddle
CD & Live Show Review page

The following appears in All Music Guide.

Much like earlier entrants in the subscription series Sandtrafikar, Mullah concentrates on the softer yet still ominous side of Muslimgauze, coming across as meditative, late-night music which still has an understated edge to it all. The title track sets its mood well, with a synth/string arrangement similar to the dominant one from Veiled Sisters, but darker and more subdued, set against a very low-key drum machine beat and gentle interjections of wind instruments and random vocal bits. The first "Every Grain of Palestinian Sand" ups the tempos slightly, adding more drones and percussion, including a great acoustic performance about halfway in, along with an attractive central string melody. From there the album continues in the same general vein, adding tweaks and changes as it goes. Both versions of "Muslims Die India" are a bit more active, while still maintaining the same generally dreamy and drifting feeling (the second concentrates a bit more on percussion interplay throughout its quarter-hour length); and the second "Every Grain" sneaksin more echo and samples of machines into its quiet though intense groove. "An End" concludes things on an unexpected note, with a female vocalist singing over a combination of bird sounds and percussion breaks an attractive way to end a fine record.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

The following appeared on Discogs.

The sound on this album is intoxicating, mysterious and menacing. I prefer it when Bryn avoids using harshly distorted and loudly clipped samples of voices and drums, luckily there are long segments here without those. I particularly enjoy the 2nd and 4th tracks which move at a fairly speedy clip, I believe the primary buzzing sound is an electric sitar but I am not certain, regardless the combination of pounding drums, bells, sitar and what may be a zither is astounding. I've listened to only a few other Muslimgauze albums and haven't found many worth relistening other than this one and the one titled "A Gulf Between Us". I'd welcome others to recommend music similar to this album by other artists or Muslimgauze.

reviewed by satur9nine
(Discogs February 20, 2012)

It is the perfect intoxication of urban middle eastern tribal trance mixed with powerful echoed and manipulated vocal samples. The drumming keeps building and building into an intense conflict of political oppression. This is Bryn Jones at his best and one of the best examples of who Muslimgauze really is. The digipak album is beautiful and well worth having the original release.

reviewed by jackthetab
(Discogs April 9, 2017)

One of Muslimgauze's best releases - a pulsating, overwhelmingly dark record that flows phenomenally well, even compared to Bryn Jones' other releases.

Bought direct from Staalplaat and can confirm this is a phenomenal repress featuring incredibly clear and powerful sound - no distortion or compromise compared to the CD version as sometimes happens with represses. The packaging is also excellent with a thick card gatefold and nice inners.

reviewed by JBrailsford93
(Discogs February 20, 2018)

Gatekeepers of the Muslimgauze archive Staalplaat answer many a Muslimgauze fanatics' prayers and commit to wax one of the project's most hypnotic entities, Mullah Said. Following on from vinyl editions of the noise/techno Ali Zarin crossover and the junglist rewiring Uzbekistani Bizzare and Souk, which was heralded as one of our reissues of the year back in 2015.

While the recent year's slew of Staalplaat Muslimgauze CDs have seen them shedding light on Bryn Jones ability to foresee and produce a seemingly endless well of material that provides a blueprint for the work of everyone from Arca and Rabit at their most grime to Vatican Shadow and Shackleton's slower, more detached movements.

Originally released 20 years ago on CD, Mullah Said has long been a quiet favourite amongst the troves of Muslimgauze fanatics. More mysterious than some of his more well-known material, the five tracks here offer a truly intoxicating arrangement of percussion, and found sounds make this one of the most engrossing transmissions of Muslimgauze middle eastern ambience to surface yet.

thanks
philippe

reviewed by music_emporium
(Discogs February 23, 2018)

The following appeared on Brainwashed.

Earlier this year, Staalplaat took a break from their plunge into Bryn Jones' seemingly endless archive of unreleased/hyper-limited material to put out a double-LP vinyl reissue of this beloved landmark album from 1998. While the vinyl format is an odd choice for this particular release (I have the digital version), I am delighted by this new reissue campaign: the sprawling Muslimgauze discography is a hopelessly intimidating and overwhelming labyrinth for all but the most die-hard fans, so the world definitely needs a knowledgeable curator to call attention to the most timeless and essential releases in the Muslimgauze canon. This is one of those. Normally, my own favorite Muslimgauze albums tend to be the more ethno-percussion-driven ones, but Mullah Said's heady drone/dub-inspired collage aesthetic is a striking exception, as it stands as one of Jones' most immersive, evocative, and fully formed works.

One thread that runs endlessly through the Muslimgauze discography is Bryn Jones' obsessive recycling and self-cannibalization, as the same motifs appear again and again and many of his better ideas resulted in multiple variations of the same song.That curious approach arguably reached its apotheosis with this album, as two of its lengthiest songs ("Every Grain of Palestinian Sand" and "Muslims Die India") appear twice, accounting for roughly 18 minutes of a 65-minute album‚Ķand those two pieces can only be differentiated by their subtly different bass patterns and shifts in pace.And the opening "Mullah Said" does not sound much different either.It is unusual sequencing, to be sure, but it does not feel redundant, lazy, or one-dimensional.Rather, Mullah Said feels like a single, massive, trance-inducing epic with relatively irrelevant differentiations between its various movements.As such, the vinyl format fundamentally disrupts Mullah Said's raison d'Äôetre: the mesmerizing cumulative power of the album's enveloping, hallucinatory repetition.I imagine it is quite hard to remain beguiled by Mullah Said's exotic and unworldly spell when you have to flip a record three times to get to the end, though I suppose roughly the same effect could be achieved by just playing the same side of the album four times in a row.That is not a negative statement about the music itself, mind you‚Äìjust an observation that Mullah does not have a dramatic arc that gradually unfolds: it is more like a swirling and mysterious aural hallucination to live inside.Concepts like "beginning" and "end" do not hold much meaning here.That said, people love vinyl, so I cannot fault Staalplaat for their choice: a deluxe vinyl reissue is an event that generates excitement‚Äìa reissued CD is not.

In essence, Mullah Said is built upon an understated (yet perfect) infinite groove of brooding bass tones and shifting electronic drum patterns.Aside from the tensely relentless kick drum pulse in the first "Every Grain of Palestinian Sand," Jones tends to maintain a languorously lurching dub-like pulse, which provides an optimally spacious canvas for all of the other dub-like flourishes (drifting voices, echoing percussion, etc.).There are occasional loops of sitar/tambura melodies and some wonderfully menacing swells of buzzing string drones that serve as recurring motifs to give the album a sense of structure, yet the true beauty of Mullah Said lies in everything on the periphery: this album is a vibrant, multilayered, and complex tour de force of clattering hand percussion, evocative field recordings, and enigmatic snatches of dialogue.In the past, I have critiqued Muslimgauze for Jones' exasperating tendency to endlessly move on to the next project without lingering around to fully flesh out his best ideas and Mullah Said is an unexpectedly dramatic swing in the opposite direction: it is basically just a simple bassline and sinister-sounding sitar buzz painstakingly expanded into an incredibly rich and detailed fantasia.It feels like I was dropped inside a nightmare set in an unknown Middle Eastern city and all I know is that something extremely significant just happened, but trying to piece together exactly what proves to be incredibly elusive.I am completely enveloped in an unnerving chaos of gunshots, lamentations, prayers, radio transmissions, shouting men, speeding trucks, conspiratorial-sounding conversations, and a host of unrecognizable and unfamiliar other sounds.Sometimes it feels like I am just wandering through a marketplace and other times it feels like I just stumbled into the aftermath of a massacre, which is a very neat trick indeed: Mullah is built on constantly shifting sands and its unstoppable forward motion makes it impossible to ever fully get my bearings.Despite that seemingly amorphous structure, however, Jones maintains a deliciously constant balancing act of tension and release, as these pieces regularly blossom into small-scale crescendos of intensity or oases of comparative calm (or at least simmering unease rather than boiling unease).

As swirling, lysergic, and ambiguously malevolent as it is, however, Mullah Said is curiously bookended by glimpses of simple beauty: it opens on a somewhat meditative tone with a call to prayer and closes in extremely bizarre and disarming fashion with "The End."The crux of "The End" is just a woman quietly singing a pretty song to herself, seemingly surrounded by a gibbering chorus of birds.Left unmolested, it would be a perfectly lovely and hopeful coda for Mullah Said's darkly heavy and hallucinatory journey, but Jones repeatedly disrupts it with a strange percussion loop that sounds weirdly arbitrary.Or perhaps the disruptive loop deliberately serves to show that bliss and tranquility are but a flickering mirage.Whether it was meant as a powerful final commentary or just a somewhat half-baked collision of studio scraps that perversely felt right, I will never know.Bryn Jones was a complicated man and I would probably go insane if I ever tried to nail down his intentions.In any case, despite Jones never having been to the Middle East, Mullah Said paints an extremely vivid picture of the region as it existed in his head, distilling all of its rage, turmoil, and beauty into a deeply compelling and haunting aural postcard from an imaginary city. Mullah Said is not just one of Muslimgauze's finest albums, it is one of the most radical and inventive "outsider" albums to ever emerge from the dub tradition.

posted by Anthony D'Amico in Albums and Singles (March 25, 2018)
Brainwashed

The following appears on Staalplaat's Muslimgauze Bandcamp page.

Those not familiar with Jones' style, will listen slack-jawed at the shear anticipatory nature of his sound collage. The five lengthy tracks are based on hypnotic and somewhat menacing grooves: a repetitive dub bass beat, waves of Middle Eastern strings and voices, layers of building hand percussion. Each track is respective but the washes of sound/percussion come and go often creating a sense of motion and change. All of the tracks are similar and even share elements. Mid-East tension is so accurately captured through the use of the regions instrumentation (especially percussion), sinister electronics, samples of men chanting, women crying, sounds culled from the horrors of war, and occasional angry distortion that the listener's listener will be transported to the belly of the beast.

'Mullah Said' displays two aspects of the work of Muslimgauze. Firstly, musically, it is in the delightful drifting ambient vein. The percussion is mainly acoustic hand drums - providing a rhythm of aural features - the trademark shimmering string sound heard on a number of releases is much in evidence, rhythms are generally slower, there are lots of samples of people speaking in conversation, markets wherever. 'Mullah said' opens the disc with the lovely mix of these sounds. 'Every grain of Palestine sand' continues the mood, with a slightly faster tempo, and more emphasis on the beat. But it soon locks into a mesmeric lassitude as various effects echo or smear the sounds, drums come in for short moments, different string sounds enjoin the play. 'Muslims die India' follows the mood though the voices seem darker, sadder, and then comes 'Every grain of Palestinian sand' followed by 'Muslims die India'. Yes - not a typo, these tracks are repeated. Muslimgauze trend - to remix himself. Prime Muslimgauze middle eastern ambience - if you like that side you will love this album. The final track is short and different, a crackling ground over which a singer chants a song interrupted by machine-gun percussive bursts - 'An end'.

Mullah Said on Bandcamp

The following appeared on Sputnik Music.

I'm not going to comment too much on the nature of orientalism, on the shallow exoticism of drawing from certain aspects of an unfamiliar culture for a cheap aesthetic experience except to say that if Bryn Jones, pseudonym Muslimgauze, is guilty of orientalism, it's only in that he's using the sounds of a particular culture as a vehicle for the political concerns of that culture. Sand-swept atmospheres and traditional instruments arranged into the guise of ambient and electronic music aren't simply a gimmick here, but rather a means to conceptually explore the nature of Middle Eastern conflict, its colonialist roots, and the justification of violence for political ends. It might be better said then that the artistic output of Muslimgauze functions better as propaganda than as entertainment, not necessarily a bad thing.

Mullah Said is perhaps the most well-known of his vast catalogue of material, although why it should stand out among so many other albums that differ only in their stylistic leanings towards and away from Middle Eastern folk, ambient and industrial is a mystery. But whatever the reason for its notoriety relative to the rest of Muslimgauze's discography, it's as fine an introduction as any to this unique sound. The title track grooves in a way that draws less from traditional folk rhythms and more from the heady, head-bobbing sounds of dub and reggae, pulsating rhythms sidewinding through the sandy, tense atmosphere as oud melodies and clacking hand drums are laid thickly over a dim electronic pulse and snatches of mysterious vocal samples. Every Grain of Palestinian Sand cranks the electronic influence and the political tension, as a straightforward 4/4 beat intercut with the unmistakable clack of the bolt of an AK-47 and further vocal samples evolve into the humming drone of other traditional instruments. The album continues to ratchet up the sense of tension and urgency throughout Muslims Die India, as an ever-increasing tempo and a chilling death-rattle sample underscore the fear-laden atmosphere of the track within.

Bryn Jones, perennially preoccupied with Palestinian political problems, had, over his prolific and all-too-brief career, understood the nature of a particular aesthetic in mass media in a way that few are able to. Rather than a simple aestheticization of a culture, Jones has created an atmosphere that seeks to drop the listener into the mindset of these political issues; to ignore the politics behind them is to ignore the essence of his entire project. That it's very easy to do so in the face of how well-constructed and immediately enjoyable as a desert-atmosphere mood piece the music is may be a mark against Muslimgauze. But then, art must always remain open to interpretation, to the very real possibility that certain aspects of the project will be ignored in favor of shallow aesthetic enjoyment. If Bryn recognized that a wider audience would be found with an immediately pleasing aural experience, then any fault must lie with the selectively deaf ears of the listener. If nothing else, with the in-your-face politics of the album titles, Mullah Said exists at the very least as an invitation to a deeper exploration, an insidiously political vehicle that, if you allow it to, might take you places you never really intended to go.

Review by DadKungFu
Sputnik Music (March 9th, 2023)

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March 15, 2023