Speaker Of Turkish

Release date: January 9, 2006

“Speaker of Turkish” is the first completely new Muslimgauze album to be released in more than two years. It’s one of several albums recorded by Bryn Jones in a final year-long burst of creativity that peaked in the spring of 1998, shortly before his sudden and unexpected death on January 14, 1999. It consists of six long tracks, one of which is a reprised version of the opening track: 1. The Good Muslim 2. Exit Afghanistan 3. Turkish Speaker 4. Bedouin Tablet 5. The Good Muslim 6. Shah of Persia. Musically, “Speaker of Turkish” is comparable to “Your Mines in Kabul”, which was recorded just a few months before this album. Never one to waste space on a CD, Bryn committed 73 minutes of music to the master tape, and as with so many other of his recordings, asked John Delf to engineer the session at the Manchester studio he referred to as “the Abraham Mosque”. There was no dedication made with this album; dedications are mostly to be found on his earlier recordings. This first edition 397 hand-numbered copies of “Speaker of Turkish” is presented in a sturdy, heavy hand-made papier-mâché case closed by a beaded string that loops through notches in edge of the lid. A raised-relief mosque is glued to the front, and a highly stylized rendering of the name “Allah” is silkscreened in Arabic calligraphy on the inside. The track listing is screened on the back. A double-sided window sticker and a 2006 mini-calendar card are included inside. The calendar is imprinted with the words “Speaker of Turkish” and “Your number”, below which of course appears the hand written serial number. A second edition of this album, presented in more conventional packaging, will be issued at a future date. No two of these hand-made cases are exactly alike. Some of them lie flat when opened while others refuse to open all the way. The paper hinge joining the two parts of the CD case is weak and prone to failure. Do not attempt to flatten your CD case if it doesn't open fully; the hinge will tear in half. Handle this CD with care. Do not attempt to remove the small “Made in India” sticker from the back. Doing so will de-laminate the green paint from the case.

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared on Brainwashed.

As I write this it has been seven years to the day since the passing of Bryn Jones. Several labels diligently continue to release and preserve his music but in recent years Soleilmoon is at the forefront of packaging presentation. From the metal tin of Arabbox to the oversized folder of Alms for Iraq to the fur covering of Re-mixs Volume 1 & 2 to the silk pouch of Syrinjia. And now this.

Speaker of Turkish is a limited edition of 397 (a second issue in more conventional packaging is forthcoming) that comes in a hand-made wooden gatefold case held together by a paper hinge and held fast by a beaded string through top notches. On the front is a raised-relief mosque and inside the word "Allah" is silk-screened in Arabic calligraphy. Also inside is a hand-numbered 2006 wallet-sized calendar and window sticker, both with colorful mosque illustrations.

Musically speaking, rather than another re-issue, this is the first album of completely new material to be released in more than two years. It was recorded in 1997 along with at least a dozen other albums—three of which have still yet to be released—a testament to Jones' unrelentingly productive pace. The entire catalog stands as one great work but any one disc is a snapshot of a particular period. Around this time Jones had become very skilled at creating a sort of travelogue collage with his usual arsenal of sounds: hand drums, bass throbs, ethnic wind and string instruments, electronic blips, snatches of voice, smears of stereo-panned distortion and seemingly found sounds (the pesky peacock is back, but subdued).

Six tracks make up the 73 and 1/2 minutes with two being in the 10 minute range and three being in the 16 minute range. "The Good Muslim," especially its same-titled reprise, is the most aggressive minded as the beats are much more forceful and overlapping. The closer, "Shah of Persia," approaches a minimal zen as a simple string loop is accompanied by bass, surface crackle and sporadic overdriven outbursts. The rhythms on the epic length tracks are lethargic and come and go as they meander, altogether defying the tedious repetition that marks many other albums.

It's this more relaxed and subliminal style of Muslimgauze that impresses me most and leaves me with an overwhelming sense of mystery: where are we?; why are we there?; what does it all mean? It only becomes perfectly clear when delving into the to-the-point interviews with Jones that the music is purely a compulsive reaction to events in the Middle East. He produced music for 17 years at the time of his death and I wouldn't be surprised if it takes another 17 years to release the remainder of what he left behind. Hopefully Soleilmoon and others continue to honor the man and his music with their adornment.

review by Mark Weddle (Tuesday, 17 January 2006)

The following appeared in e/i Magazine/Audio Verité

Even after his 1999 death, interested music communities still wonder why middle-class Mancunian Bryn Jones grew to obsess as he did over long-standing Arab-Israeli conflicts, how he aligned himself so closely with the Middle East and Islam despite never visiting the former nor practicing the latter; if his politics helped or harmed his career and the social situations he addressed therein. Were we able to completely separate the man from his surroundings, the music from whatever his message was at the time, the hope is that Speaker of Turkish — a new collection of tracks first recorded in 1997 — would serve as something of a starting point for newcomers to Jones’ world as Muslimgauze. His formula of abrasive, distorted percussion loops and eternal drones bordering on the intolerable may be diehard fans’ lifeblood, but Speaker of Turkish is the best proof yet that Muslimgauze can indeed be toned down so other sonic trademarks—especially wind and string instruments indigenous to the Arab world—are more easily accessed by the uninitiated. “Turkish Speaker,” for example, lays down a solid 16-minute ambient dub groove the way the Orb used to do in the early 1990s. The far more abstract “Bedouin Tablet” echoes that same outfit’s random access memory—latch on to a beat, let it go, come back and latch on again three minutes later. Speaker of Turkish even opens with “The Good Muslim,” quite possibly the closest we've ever heard Muslimgauze get to a pop song construct: four-plus minutes of loud-soft-loud dynamics echoing grunge rock (of all things), its primary sequence of vocal and street-scene samples repeated to mimic an actual verse with actual lyrics. (Much truer to form, the song is exploded for a 10-minute reprise later in the album.) And yet, and yet…Jones’ beliefs are his distinctive markings, his qualifiers, his inner strength and critical weakness. The spare rhythms of Muslimgauze’s second track here recall Bill Laswell’s Axiom period, its drama generated by the push of peaceful flutes, drums, and finger cymbals against the pull of usurping static, but its title — “Exit Afghanistan” — and its main sample seem to foreshadow Osama bin Laden’s escape route following the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks. “Shah of Persia,” meanwhile, turns the levels way down on a fractured string melody run backwards and forwards only to make it briefly (frighteningly) deafening on a whim. The only appropriate analogy: stray bullets in the night; the music of warfare, the music as warfare, the music we hate to love plays on. And so the Muslimgauze legacy continues; to what end remains to be seen.

review by Adam Blyweiss
originally appeared in e/i Magazine / Audio Verité / Installment #2 March, 2007

The following appeared in Vital Weekly.

This is good news! Eight years after the slipping away of Bryn Jones - the man behind the incredible ethno-electronic project Muslimgauze - Soleilmoon Recordings has just released a brand new Muslimgauze album. The intelligent reader might wonder how a new album can be released so many years after his passing away back in early January of 1999! The simple, yet quite extraordinary, answer to this question is, that Bryn Jones had so much to express musically that he had new materials ready for release on an almost weekly basis. The number of albums released after his death approaches the number of albums that was launched while Bryn Jones was still active. The driving force of Muslimgauze was to express his sympathy for the Muslim people. The combination of this and the fact that Bryn Jones was an incredible artist of electronic sound, resulted in a countless number of personal albums, combining ethnic expressions of the Middles East with pioneering electronics. This new album titled "Speaker of Turkish" presents the more downbeat-side of Muslimgauze. Despite its ambient approach it still contains the abrasive and rough moments that separated Muslimgauze from most other artist from the ethno-electronic scene.

Consisting of only six tracks there is some quite lengthy tracks giving space to ritualistic and hypnotic moments, thanks to the great repetitive and minimalist approach. The rich amount of samples of everything from tables, sitars to Middle-Eastern voices and choirs works excellent with the innovating experimentation of electronic sounds. "Speaker of Turkish" is a great exploration into Eastern atmospheres what this might carry of beauty and ugliness. Essential Muslimgauze!

reviewed by: Niels Mark Pedersen
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Vital Newsletter (Week 6 Number 563 February 7, 2007)

The following appeared in Freq.

Wallowing in the hazy mists drifting across a backmasked pan-Arabian sea of ethnotronic dub and shivering with brightly-struck percussion, Speaker Of Turkish uncoils with languorous, leisurely bass and rhythms keeping time at a rolling pace. There are wafts of breathy pipes and shards of brittle tape loops clashing in the mix too, liquid morasses bubbling up between chiming bells and ghostly voices from and about the Muslim world.

One of the key aspects of Jones' method was that he eschewed the use of digital samplers, and his fondness for constructing his unique music by razor cut and the splicing of tape imbues his edits with a particular sound, the ever present echoes and flickering reverb layering a fug as dense as that of a basement full of contented shisha-tokers. This is some of Bryn Jones' most finely textured work, though the soothing balm of lengthy tracks like the mellifluously relaxing "Turkish Speaker" or the hypnagogic, slow-burning hiss'n'shuffle of the deftly-constructed "Bedouin Tablet" are still coiled around a musical heart which pulses with a fervent passion for his subject. Likewise, the two versions of "The Good Musilm" are sprinkled with fractured percussion debris, clicking and clattering around the central rhythm which soon gallops into euphoric life, cresting softly in undulating waves redolent of hot winds and exotic enchantments.

It's a album which at once is a reminder that the passing of Bryn Jones at such a young age was tragic; but also stands as a superb spur to recall that his back catalogue is not only legendarily immense, at over one hundred releases, but that so many Muslimgauze recordings are almost untouchably, achingly beautiful, as is most definitely the case here.

review by Linus Tossio

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Speaker Of Turkish Speaker Of Turkish (second edition)

January 31, 2017