Veiled Sisters

The veiled sisters can be found throughout this lavishly designed and packaged double CD: they're looking at you from the moment you pick it up, and they're inside when you open it. But much like Muslimgauze itself the real meaning of the 'veiled sisters' is hidden from view. For close to ten years Afghan rebels fought a guerrilla war against occupying forces from the Soviet Union. Their veiled sisters were guns: the Katyusha and the Kalashnikov, kept always at hand, but never seen. The 21 songs on this release are grouped into six suites, spread over two discs, and running well beyond two hours. The music on 'Veiled Sisters' is surprising, not for any hidden guns or implied violence but because it is perhaps Muslimgauze's most human. This album breaths and sighs with true humanity, so much so that it's not hard to imagine yourself in occupied Palestine, sitting at an outdoor market cafe, joining in conversations and sharing in other peoples lives.

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared on Concept.

From his prolific production, Bryn Jones offers us a CD duplicate of musical transcendence. As with "Betrayal" we float in an atmospheric realm where we mingle with the snarling dreams of a world fighting for its survival. Descent is impossible, the material world is no more. Alone exists its dreams, its nightmares, its fantasies. Let yourself be carried away by the cadences and drown your souls in bottomless wells, that are veiled sister eyes let lose, by the winds of the desert and the undulating heat of the camp fires. From the tent of the Bedouin to the emir's palace, while passing by the mullah's home, go from this world and dance your joy. To live a free man.

review by Cyrille Sottile
translation by T @ The Edge with the use of Power Translator

The following appears in All Music Guide.

Muslimgauze's first double-disc release of any kind, while demonstrating Jones' increasing ambition, has not held up well over time in the eyes of many fans, in comparison to other albums. The heart of the problem is that for an effort running over two hours, Veiled Sisters is extremely one-note; the basic sound and flow of the discs at the start don't change at all by their end. While Muslimgauze does work within a particular stylistic zone, to be sure, things here simply don't vary. The music consists of light electronic drum/cymbal sounds with an occasional drop-in of more "natural" percussion sounds, subliminal bass, and very gentle keyboard melodies and drones, all combined with a series of random conversational samples in Arabic. It is initially rather nice, but it can test an audience's patience as the discs continue. This said, while the variances in the pieces are astoundingly slight throughout, what changes do occur have a greater impact than expected as a result. Thus, the conclusion of the "Submit to Sharia/Qasidah Murmur/Lebanon" combination on the first disc, when the music temporarily drops out near the end over a floating bed of soft, shadowy keyboards before returning one last time, has a much more gripping feeling to it than might otherwise be predicted. Ultimately, the enjoyment of Veiled Sisters will depend on listeners' enthusiasm for Muslimgauze to begin with, and whether or not they simply let it go at its own pace; though not a peak in Bryn Jones' musical career, it still has a certain something to it nonetheless. [Side note: while the album is listed as having 21 songs, the CD mastering and editing of the songs in practical terms make it three separate tracks per disc.]

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

The following appears on AmbiEntrance.

One of the more-filmic/less-aggressive entries I've uncovered in the vast Muslimgauze library of ethno-drum excursions, this two-disc set (62:30 and 66:13 respectively) weaves loads of conversational Middle-Eastern fragments and locational sounds into dreamily drifting expanses marked by light beats and more-than-usual filtered-guitar strums. Multiple pieces are combined into three long tracks per disc; for instance, the first cinematically unfolding track (24:58) encompasses Shamal Aquabah, PLO Flag, Veiled Sisters and Dust in its hypnotically arid grooves, dusty drones and variously populated scenes. Softly thrumming ethnic strings and humming electronics are dappled with almost-delicate percussive elements in Oil Field/Mohajir (14:39), often whirling in a dreamlike slur.

Draped in shimmering curtains and decorative cymbal accents, the second disc (a.k.a. Sister two) performs similar transportive illusions, bringing three (or twelve) more exotic other-worlds into your ears. Behind the light drum sounds of the third track, containing Pasha, Farouche Charpoy, Halal, Sadu and Zupol, a looping gauze of airy guitar shimmers. Highly recommended for the extended atmospherics, if you're not offended by the politics of the "Dedicated to the PLO..." message.

review by Link O'Rama (a.k.a. David J. Opdyke)
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance March, 2001

The following appears on Amazon.com.

Great, ambient Muslimgauze.

Veiled Sisters showcases Muslimgauze's ambient (with beats) style. Subdued drums, dark atmospheres, and the usual samples. The songs are very long and segmented, but never boring. One part drifts seamlessly into the next. It sound stylistically similar to Maroon. Very highly recommended.

I have close to 50 Muslimgauze recordings and it's true that a lot of them sound very similar. However, having listened to a lot of ambient Muslimgauze, I feel this is one his strongest purely ambient releases. If you're really into his West Bank style with wild percussion, this might not be of interest. As far as ambient Muslimgauze goes, you can't go wrong with Veiled Sisters.

Steward Willons (July 6, 2006)
Amazon.com

The following appears on Alter Records Bandcamp page.

It's by some strange inversion that since his untimely death in 1999 Bryn Jones' Muslimgauze project has become evermore enigmatic as his publicly available recordings have become evermore vast. The Mancunian artist's sudden passing at the age of 37 prematurely resolved a body of work that remains as experimental as it is diffuse, with an informal archive that was left spread between favoured labels and confidantes. And though this monadic project never abided by genre specifications, it all feels as if it is taking the critical pulses of its time and rendering them into something other than the sum of its obscure compulsions. Jones' double album 'Veiled Sisters' from 1993 is no exception, and it persists as a magnificent outlier in his singular and bewildering discography.

Originally released by the label Soleilmoon, an early and lifelong supporter of Jones' work along with Staalplaat, the album is a notable example of the uniquely recombinant fragility and fervour of Jones' work. This 3LP edition marks the album's first appearance on vinyl. Like much of the Muslimgauze catalogue, 'Veiled Sisters' is dedicated to the Palestine Liberation Organization, with its two halves—Sister One and Sister Two—calling on the history and conflicts of the modern Islamic world through opaque titles and snatches of musical oration.

Forgoing the raucous timbre and abrasion that Jones could occasionally employ, this album balances a medley of shrill instrumental bursts with a complex patterning of ambient atmospheres. 'Veiled Sisters' moves with a hypnotic gait across its extended runtime with a dynamic ensemble of electronics grounded in a pulsing yet evasive combination of low-slung kicks and dub-soaked bass. The hissy wash of drums, both played and machined, decorate a restless patina all over, and the cacophony of samples send impressions scattershot into Jones' idiosyncratic yet readymade psychedelia. With a quiet intensity that is not often captured this succinctly in the Muslimgauze catalogue, this new edition of 'Veiled Sisters' is a reminder of the haunting wonder that Jones was capable of manifesting.

Veiled Sisters on Bandcamp

The following appears on Boomkat.

Helm's Alter label hail a Muslimgauze masterwork with a first vinyl edition of 1993's 'Veiled Sisters', one of the legendary project's atmospheric salvos, cultishly coveted for its spellbinding slink and opiated psychedelia.

Newly remastered for vinyl by John Hannon, and CD by Cam Deas, the original 2CD-turned-3LP now firmly holds attention with over 2hrs of mazy tape loops and hands-on dubbing that speak to the depth of Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze's obsessive vision and endless hours of studio-as-instrument practice. It's worth reminding that Jones was only 37 when he passed away, in 1999, from complications with a rare fungal infection in his bloodstream, leaving behind an unfathomable tranche of recordings that are still being raked thru and issued to this day. While there's evidently no shortage of work on circulation for even the most ardent fan, it's the duty of releases such as this reissue to highlight the most significant moments in such a broad and hard-to-grasp catalogue.

'Veiled Sisters' stands up among a certain strain of more spaced-out, subtly evocative Muslimgauze collections. It's the sort of stuff that patently inspired Vatican Shadow's best work, and may even be heard in the more recent releases by Luke Younger's Helm, as well as Shackleton (although he used to play down the influence). As ever, it wears its politics both explicitly via track titles, and more obliquely in its use of fragmented voices that pepper and spice proceedings with a sense of furtive portent reflected in the music's palpitating drums and noir-ish pads. In any event, without Muslimgauze around to elucidate the music's concepts, it's really left to anyone's guess, and the whole Muslimgauze canon has practically become shorthand for a sense of unresolved enigma and complex politics in industrial-related music.

'Veiled Sisters', with its immersive trip between flying steppers rhythm, charcoal-baked loops and synthy intimations is a classic of its own genre that will no doubt be pored over for years to come.

Boomkat

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October 7, 2022