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Babylon Iz Iraq
Muslimtapes / Fathom - MUSLIMTAPE 02 (April 5, 2010)
recorded by Bryn Jones in 1996
Alert! Track 7 has slight glitches attributed to the master recordings. In order to preserve the integrity of the source material, we opted to leave glitches unedited during the mastering process.
"Babylon Iz Iraq" literally travelled the world-over before release in the completed form you now hold. The journey began in 1996 when Mark Grimward, who ran Germany-based Incoming! approached the late Bryn Jones to remix "Wikkidness Increased", an electro-dub album by Unitone HiFi. Though not exactly traditional dub, Incoming! organized a remix of "Rewound Rerubbed" and approached mostly dub artists for the task, while Jones was among the exceptions. Bryn Jones was a specialist in the appropriation and assimilation of both sounds and musical styles into something his own. In fact, one of Jones' quirks was his unabashed claim that his own music surpassed that of his contemporaries and even went so far as to say his remixes were "much improved" over the originals. This might explain why Jones sent more than one master and told Grimward to select what he liked. The latter was so overwhelmed by choice that he taped a selection for Paris, France-based music journalist Laurent Diouf; a specialist in dub reggae to help with track selection. That Jones responded so voluminously is of interest considering his discography; six releases in 1995, 15 in 1996—and that is at a label pace. Jones' actual music output was always larger and accounts for a considerable posthumous catalog. After the release of "Rewound + Rerubbed", Jones' masters were forgotten until Diouf rediscovered Grimward's mixtape during a house cleaning and passed it over to Mo Schwiransky, maintainer of the Muslimgauze fan site, Arabbox.
Schwiransky then contacted Unitone HiFi and Grimward and asked for both the masters (10 tracks off DAT, four from cassette) and permission to release the music. Once granted, the music was then sent to Josh 'Alter Echo' Derry in Portland, Oregon. Derry not only worked under different alias' for the live band Sound Secretion but also mastered Muslimgauze recordings such as "Melt" and "Lo-Fi India Abuse" for Bucolic Sound Investigations (BSI) Recordings. The name 'Babylon' is frequently invoked in reggae music since Jamaican culture—the origin of reggae—is steeped in the King James Bible and is used to describe circumstances of injustice and moral decay. Jones, however, saw something different in the invocation, contemporary rather than ancient issues of Babylon now known as Al Hillah in the Babil province of Iraq. During the early 80's, while a full-scale war went on against neighboring Iran, then-dictator Saddam Hussein ordered excavation and reconstruction of the ancient city. This turned out to be a homage to Hussein's considerable ego including an order that his name be inscripted onto historic structures. This went on until US forces put an end to Saddam's reign with the 2003 invasion and occupation. As of this writing, US forces razed parts of this historical area for military installation—much to the dismay of preservationists. Jones' track title reflects on how modern Iraq is not unlike Biblical times in both an historical and 'reggae culture' sense; indeed, 'Babylon Iz Iraq'.
Text written by I. Khider