Sonar vs Muslimgauze

The following appears in the February 1999 edition of Chain D.L.K..

Extraordinary mutual-remixing-experiment MCD by two very important names of the industrial electronic scene. Sonar is nobody else than Dirk Ivens (Absolute Body Control, the Klinik, Dive) and the brand new member Eric Van Wonterghem (Absolute Body Control, the Klinik, Insekt, Monolith), even if the project started out in 1996 with Patrick Stevens in place of Van Wonterghem. This outfit has already released four full length CDs and five vinyl releases (picture discs, 7", 10" and 12") and the brand new MCD is another attempt to find +a contemporary definition of industrial [...] by controlling electronic devices;. The hypnotic and harsh-distorted industrial power beats filling the cold yet danceable atmospheres, the tuned industrial machinery noises the in-depth approach of such an electrically flowing experience is fantastic.. Deconstructing each other's sounds Bryn Jones, aka Muslimgauze, dives more deeply into industrial techno, slightly detaching from Arabian percussion and approaching electrically-interferenced experimentation, yet keeping a fixed view over certain sonorities he loves.

It's a sublime experiment, truly recommended to all industrial-electronics addicted!

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chain D.L.K. Magazine (Issue #6)

The following appears on Re:mote Induction.

This is an 8 track release available through Belgian label Daft Records featuring one of the label head Dirk Ivens', two current projects. Joining Ivens in Sonar is long time work mate Eric Van Wonterghem, between them they have been involved in some of Belgium's most influential projects - Absolute Body Control, Blok 57, The Klinik, Insekt, Dive and Monolith. With the departure of Patrick Stevens this is the first release with the new line up.

The first 4 tracks are by fellow Brit Bryn Jones with his Muslimgauze project. Unfortunately Jones passed away at the beginning of this year, his work relatively unknown in his native Britain but recognised on a world stage. With the difficulty of finding/hearing different music in the UK, I have not heard much Muslimgauze - though recently I have been hearing more and liking what I hear. Muslimgauze's music is influenced by the middle-east and this was reflected in the tones and instruments of his music. With his usual "world" tinted electro-techno-ambient sounds he is transformed with these mixes by Sonar.

Panorama starts with a vocal sample and hints of the Muslimgauze. This quickly forms brute Sonar rhythms. Surprisingly the two gel in a way that maintains the two distinct rhythm patterns. A very strong start to this EP

Spiked Hands shows more of Muslimgauze's original track but with undeniable Sonar kick. Blistering noise crackles across the insistent patterns with deep rumblings. Here Comes The Pain is a slower smoother form of sound. Of the four tracks Arsenic Device, the final Muslimgauze track, initially sounds more like Sonar. But the wavering of the bass line and the strident beats give it a hint more accessibility than a general Sonar track.

As the last Muslimgauze track sounds more like Sonar the first Sonar track sounds more like Muslimgauze. Marble Infant has strong metallic hand slapping beats, a French vocal sample, and mild distortion. Through its movements there are some clear moments that can still be said to be Sonar.

Naked Black Eyes erupts next with foreshortened pulses - the electronic sounds and following beats sound as though they are cut off at their midpoint. This leads to a curious effect, somewhat edgy but it works well. The manipulated beats form little pile-drivers across the cores ethnic regularity.

Actually Should We Care? sounds as though it has a pre-Sonar sound - cold electro showing some of the duos past ventures. This track is a nice electro instrumental that manages to show no clear influence from either band. Looped rapping vocal samples and warbling electronic pulses and chords provide us with Sonar's last track Counting Backwards. As with all the tracks on this collection it is hard to say who has contributed what not having heard any of the material previously. But I think this is one of the clearest examples of how a project like this can work tranceforming expectations into something decidedly different.

All 8 tracks featured here are well worth hearing showing the possibilities of combining two projects. Softening hard washes of noise and hardening classic world rhythms to produce some very nice pieces.

review by PTR
Re:mote Induction (March 14, 1999)

The following appeared on Aural Fixation.

All it took was the title of this release for me to want to buy it. In the growing underground realm of "remix wars," this seemed to be one of those dream matches on Pay-Per-View buzzing in the minds and hearts of industrialists everywhere. With Sonar, one of Dirk Ivens main musical projects (the other being Dive), reconstructing Muslimgauze, the late Bryn Jones musical / political assault mission, I saw the great potential for a colossal album. However, upon first inspection, I noticed it was not a full length release. Many of the songs hardly exceed three minutes, and sometimes don't even make it there.

With this in mind, I momentarily worried myself over the quality of the music itself. Fortunately, my original assumption was correct. This album is a dream, though a short one. The first four tracks are Muslimgauze songs remixed by Dirk and Eric (who replaced Patrick Stevens of Hypnoskull fame) of Sonar and they sound exactly as I expected. The first track, "Panorama," starts out with one of Bryn's favorite instruments, the found voice sound, played back repeatedly. However, I didn't even have a chance to feel it before a distorted percussion loop emerged and escalated in volume quickly. Occasional grinding noises keep it from becoming monotonous. And before I knew it, the song had ended. "Arsenic Device" has a similar feel to it without the voice sample. "Spiked Hands" is my favorite of the Sonar remixes; this is one of those Muslimgauze patented Middle Eastern / Hip Hop fusions, hyper-distorted and accompanied by noisy drones. This kind of overload is also present on "Here Comes The Rain."

With the second part of the album, I had trouble distinguishing the tracks as remixes and not new Muslimgauze songs. "Marble Infant" sounds like something off his Mazar-I-Sharif album. Clearly, Bryn chooses to maintain his composition style, and perhaps he didn't totally "play fair" in the wars. Then again, Muslimgauze purists could argue the same about Sonar, but nonetheless, all his remixes are great. "Naked Black Eyes" feels more like Sonar in the beginning, but the percussion introduced about 30 seconds into the track reveals another classic Muslimgauze beat which eventually dominates. "Should We Care?" has some sounds in it that are not characteristic of his work, but for the most part it's really his song. The final track, "Counting Backwards," brings forth catchy vocal samples, deep bass, and, quite appropriately, backwards instrumentation, making for a fine closer.

Overall, this is a great album for those into Sonar and other bands in that vein to get an introduction to Muslimgauze, as well as for the completists in Bryn's fan base. I don't recommend this as a good introduction for Muslimgauze fans to Sonar though, since this is nowhere near their best work. Despite the limited amount of songs, it's still worth picking up.

Aural Fixation

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Sonar vs Muslimgauze

January 31, 2017