Shekel Of Israeli Occupation

The following appeared in Vital Weekly.

There are a few things that I can't deny, such as working at one point for Staalplaat, until some sixteen years ago, and as such being responsible for a steady stream of Muslimgauze releases. I am not going to say sorry for that. The whole subscription thing that Staalplaat did at one point to assure fans getting their daily dose of Gauze was my idea. It is also no secret that I wasn't his biggest fan. I already spilt the beans on that in the form of a book about those years. I also recount in that tome the well-known story of Muslimgauze requesting a master tape back, because the PLO signed a peace treaty with Israel. The master in question was a DAT tape, then an expensive format and Bryn Jones, a.k.a. Muslimgauze re-used the tape and Staalplaat released the appropriately titled 'Betrayal'. We at Staalplaat, always thought it was a pity since 'Shekel Of Israeli Occupation' was felt to be a great Muslimgauze release. Now only a few tracks in remixed were released on 'Hamas Arc', the EP preceding the album, and as it turned one of the best selling Muslimgauze releases. So much to my surprise, I learned that 'Shekel Of Israeli Occupation' was found and released, all thanks to a cassette copy I made for a guy in the UK. Your honor, I definitely don't remember this happening. I checked this story in the background; still knowing which strings to pull even when I am no longer the puppet master and I can confirm it is indeed the genuine article. After some twenty-five years do I recognize this music; yes, sir, I do. This is some classic mid-90s Muslimgauze, with tribalistic rhythms, nicely shimmering electronics and oddly a fine sense of experimentalism. 'Iraqkuwait' never seems to start, trying to get to start but it doesn’t. It is the Muslimgauze sound that I like, actually. I kept very few of his releases over the years and sometimes go back to a clip on You Tube, in a kind of nostalgic mood. With my name glorious shining on a Muslimgauze CD, I'd say this is then the one for future trips in the past. It has a great gold and black cloth cover and looks like a wonderful memento of bygone days. I sometimes don't miss these at all, and sometimes I do.

review by Frans de Waard
Vital Weekly
(number 1184 week 21 - March 21, 2019)

The following appeared on Boomkat.

Written, recorded & performed by Muslimgauze, this album was withdrawn by Bryn Jones, and replaced by the 'Betrayal' album in 1993. This is the album in its original form, as intended by Jones. The material was recovered from a cassette copy of the album as the original DAT was reused.

"Shekel Of Israeli Occupation' was never meant to be released. This is the only release of the album in its original form, as intended by Bryn. The material was recovered from a cassette copy of the album as the original DAT was overwritten with new material. Remixes of the tracks "Khan Younis", "Jerusalem Knife" and "Yasser Arafat's Radio" appeared on the album 'Hamas Arc'. The tracks "Caste" and "Amritsar" appeared on the album 'Satyajit Eye'. A version of "Drugsherpa" appeared on the mini album 'Drugsherpa'. Versions of the tracks "Khan Younis", "Drugsherpa", "Amritsar" & "Jerusalem Knife" appeared on the extended 'Drugsherpa' album."

Boomkat

The following appears in the book.

The opening "Muzzel of Deceit" shows Muslimgauze continuing the work begun on 'Zealot', where dub-wise production techniques blend with drones and at times slamming beats, "Freedom Fighter" being a great example of this (why Muslimgauze hasn't been more readily sampled by other artists remains a mystery) to create a very modern form out of traditional types of music. "Bir Zeit" stands out here, due to its aggressive electronic feel and distorted rhythm track elements; though the track is mixed relatively low, it sets up an excellent air of looming menace thanks to the strange whispering throughout the track. "Futile Arad Search" is another fine piece; it relies on a strange percussion loop that seems constructed from anything but regular percussion instruments which are set against a slightly more conventional rhythm that surfaces from the wash of sound in the mix. Particularly striking is one part where little but a soft drum machine beat and the sudden shudder of a tambourine come to the fore. Other songs worthy of attention include "Fadhan", with its wheezing electronics layered below a traditional drum performance, the jaunty swing of "Bandit Queen", with its quirky keyboard hook, and the slow, compelling crawl of "Pakistani Nuclear Box".

Boomkat

The following appears in the book 'This Is Supposed To Be A Record Label'. (If there's no heavy re-design (ed. of the book), this text should still be somewhere on page 35.)

"Hamas Arc had just come out as a teaser for Shekel Of Israeli Occupation, but just before we sent it to the pressing plant, the PLO's Yasser Arafat signed a peace treaty with Israel to the horror of our self-declared expert on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Bryn asked for his DAT back (which we returned, stupidly enough, as we found out later that he erased it) and gave us Betrayal to release instead."

In my current daily occupation of writing reviews of new music, I see quite a lot of newsletters and announcements of new releases, but unless they're sent to me in a physical form, I tend to mostly ignore them. I read some and think it would be nice to get a copy (and sometimes even ask for one) and then forget about it. I saw an announcement by a Hong Kong label, Ultra Mail Production, about a forthcoming release titled Shekel Of Israeli Occupation. My immediate reaction was "Really? Somebody claims to have found it? That's interesting, if it's true." Then I forgot about it immediately; you know I wasn't a fanboy. Henk Zweering, who also appears in this book and is someone I've had more contact with since leaving Staalplaat than while I was there, called me out of the blue in April 2019 and talked about this release. He's still a big fan.

"Did you hear about this new Muslimgauze CD, Shekel Of Israeli Occupation that's just come out?"

"Well, yeah, I did see it mentioned. I wonder if it's genuine."

"Here, let me read you what it says on the cover: 'Bryn was so upset by "the handshake" between Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that he immediately went to work on a new album. This turned out to be Betrayal and he asked Staalplaat to replace the release of Shekel Of Israeli Occupation with the new album. The DAT was returned to Bryn who reused it for other recordings. The album was assumed to be long lost until many years later a British chap revealed a cassette copy, made for him by Frans de Waard, then of Staalplaat. A master for the release was created from this cassette.' So, it must be genuine artefact, don't you think?"

"Well, Henk, I definitely don't recall this at all and 'a chap' in the UK sounds disconcertingly vague. I'm still not convinced."

"I'll send you a picture of the back cover".

The cover has no other clues besides the text. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't remember making a cassette copy for anyone. Luckily, we have Zuckerberg's hive-mind to consult, so I posted my question there and very quickly received a reply from Terry Allan Bennett, Muslimgauze webmaster since the early days of the World Wide Web. He told me that I did make the copy way back in 1994 for Peter Harrison, who ran his own cassette label, Direction Music, and from whom we bought cassettes right up until Staalplaat stopped selling them.

I'm sure I was in contact with him, but that I would run off cassette copies of unreleased Staalplaat CDs for people I now only barely remember, is still very hard for me to comprehend. Harrison passed away in 2000 (so I can't ask him about how chummy we were) and his wife donated his cassette collection to Rob Andrews, who gave the cassette to Bennett. As further proof, Terry sent me a photo of the cover, with a text in Peter's handwriting stating what's on the cassette, and I can hereby confirm who wrote the text on the spine: me. It's legit, as those Amerikanski's say. I really have no idea why I did this for Peter, but let's say that for once it was a good thing to do.

the author is Frans de Waard
published by TImeless Ed., 2016

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June 24, 2022