About today's artist, a music project of Bryn Jones (17 June 1961 – 14 January 1999), a British ethnic electronica and experimental musician who was influenced by conflicts in the Muslim world, with an emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With dozens of albums released under the Muslimgauze name, Jones was prolific, but his mainstream success was limited due in part to his work being issued mostly in limited editions on small record labels. His music was described by one critic as "among the most startling and unique in the noise underground."... N'Joy
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Jones first released music in 1982 as E.g Oblique Graph on Kinematograph, his own imprint, and the independent co-op label Recloose, run by Simon Crab. E.g Oblique Graph came from the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos of the time and was musically composed of electronic/experimental drone with occasional synth-melodic hooks and use of radio broadcast samples. Track titles were sometimes politicised such as "Murders linked to Gaullist Clique" on Extended Play (1982) and "Castro Regime" on Triptych (1982).
After operation Peace of the Galilee, the first Muslimgauze album, Hammer & Sickle (1983) appeared on another of Jones's label monikers, Hessian. Under the Muslimgauze alias, music switched from emphasis on pure synthesis to percussion textures, which grew to encompass acoustic drum kits, drum machines, assorted ethnic hand percussion, and even rudimentary objects like pots and pans. Synthesis and tape loop samples were often relegated to accompaniment.
Releases at the time were occasionally on cassette, more often vinyl EPs and LPs; the longest running of Jones' label monikers, Limited Editions, started with Hunting Out with an Aerial Eye (1984) followed by Buddhist on Fire, put out by Recloose the same year. Since then, Jones roughly released an album a year, given scarce financial resources until 1988, when he began making inroads with then-emerging labels Staalplaat, Soleilmoon, and Extreme Records. In 1988, Staalplaat released the first Muslimgauze CD, Iran, the subsequent catalogue migrated to mostly that format.
By the late 1980s, Jones ran out of funding to self release, and other labels that did put out Muslimgauze releases such as Recloose and Permis De Construire (which put out Coup D'État) did not pay promised royalties. Recloose head Simon Crab cited lack of sales and damaged records from fire bombing as his reason.
The neighbouring Thomas a Becket pub run by East End gangsters—common-or-garden low-level vicious thugs (years before the species was romanticized by Lock Stock and Mona Lisa)—unable to control our unlicensed trade in alcohol and other illicits, firebombed the building one night and attacked the crew on a regular basis (ironically, many of the new pressings of Muslimgauze's Buddhist on Fire stored in the Recloose offices were destroyed during this attack).
The deal with Recloose was that we paid 50 percent of the profits to the artist and 50 percent went to the label, which was a pretty good deal, especially since we didn't sell that much. We put a lot of energy into marketing, and most of the artists signed to the label sold off the back of Bourbonese Qualk anyway. He assumed we sold loads of albums but we didn't even cover the costs.
At this time distributors Soleilmoon, Staalplaat, and Extreme Records transitioned to a label proper with the advent of the compact disc format, which became less expensive to produce and ship than vinyl over time and gradually took on the Muslimgauze catalogue. After a positive experience with the release of Intifaxa (1990) with Extreme, Jones remained with the label until his final release with it, Citadel, in 1994.
It was with the release of United States of Islam (1991) a formalised agreement was reached with Extreme Records, which helped fund professional studio recordings, designed attractive packaging, and used a more extensive distribution network. Though pleased at first, Jones was frustrated with Extreme's one-release-a-year policy and in 1993 signed with then-sibling labels Soleilmoon and Staalplaat, which offered a more frequent release schedule. 1993 saw the release of Vote Hezbollah, Veiled Sisters and a re-release of Iran on Soleilmoon and Hamas Arc, Satyajit Eye and Betrayal on Staalplaat.
As someone who always had more musical supply than demand[according to whom?], Jones additionally released material on nearly any small label that approached him, including Parade Amoureuse, Minus Habens Records, Concrete Productions, Daft, and Jara. A drawback with releasing on so many labels was gratuitous editing by producers and, through design or circumstance, no royalties. Extreme cited betrayal by distribution networks that were unscrupulous or filed for bankruptcy and could not pay—though they also claimed to have eventually remunerated Jones. Lack of due royalties was a source of ongoing stress throughout Jones's career.
In 1995, he had six releases; in 1996, 15; in 1997, nine; in 1998, 16. After his death, the many record companies with which he had associated released unreleased material and re-pressed older, out-of-print material. In 1999, the year of his death, 22 new (and old) albums and EPs on several media were released.
As frequency of releases increased, Jones was able to musically respond to events in the Muslim world as they occurred. Cases in point were the 1993 Oslo Accords, which surfaced as Betrayal and 1994's Hebron Massacre (also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre) released under the same name just months after the tragedy.
Toward the end of his life, Jones involved himself in more collaborative efforts in projects like the Rootsman, Apollon, and Systemwide. Jones also made arrangements to release with other labels in addition to his mainstays (something done throughout his career, more so toward the end) such as D.O.R., Third Eye, BSI, Klanggalerie, and DAFT. In addition, the frequency of live shows increased, some recorded such as at on Air West in Japan, Mort Aux Vaches for VPRO Dutch Radio, and aboard the ship, the Stubnitz. It seemed no combination of labels, collaborations, or live performances could exhaust his musical output. Media scrutiny increased too (albeit mostly on independent publications) with a total of eight interviews in 1998.
He always stated that he never had time to listen to other people's music, although in a 1992 interview with Impulse Magazine, he mentioned that he enjoyed traditional music of Japan, the Middle East, and India, as well as the works of artists such as Can, Throbbing Gristle, Wire, and Faust. However, despite a few collaborations, Jones didn't trust anyone when it came to remixing his music. Instead, he took pieces of music sent to him and remixed them to his own liking. On Wednesday, 30 December 1998, Bryn was rushed to the hospital in Manchester with a rare fungal infection in his bloodstream, for which he had to be heavily sedated. His body eventually shut down, and he died on 14 January 1999.
Jones claimed Muslimgauze was formed in response to Operation Peace of the Galilee, Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon to stem attacks from Palestinian Liberation Organization guerrillas stationed in South Lebanon. This event inspired Jones to research the conflict's origins, which grew into a lifelong artistic focal point, and he became a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, and often dedicated recordings to the Palestinian Liberation Organization or a free Palestine. Jones's research further grew to encompass other conflict-ridden, predominantly Muslim countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Iran, and Iraq. He concluded that Western interests for natural resources and strategic-political gain were root causes for many of these conflicts and should Western meddling halt, said regions would stabilise.
When asked what he would do if conflicts in the Muslim world were peaceably resolved, Jones replied his music would champion other conflict regions such as China's occupation of Tibet. He also admitted Muslimgauze music could be appreciated outside a political context as the majority of it is instrumental; politicised only by track and album titles as well as occasional newscast and ethnic music samples. It was his hope that listeners would read album and track title references and verify for themselves the meanings through independent research and thought.
The name Muslimgauze is a play on the word muslin (a type of gauze) combined with Muslim, referring to Bryn Jones' preoccupation with conflicts throughout the Muslim world..
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A mixed bag on this effort, Citadel was released a couple of years after Muslimgauze stopped recording for Extreme Records; therefore it was possibly compiled from outtakes or other random sources as a result. A number of songs feel more like random noodles than necessarily completed songs; while this has often been a complaint about Muslimgauze's work, it isn't quite as bad here as it is elsewhere, and even the more generic numbers usually have a little something going for them, like the soft wind instrument sounds on "Dharam Hinduja" or the near dubwise production (and, rather surprisingly, dry English spoken vocals at the end!) on "Masawi Wife & Child." The title track has some strong percussion to its credit, up very high in the mix, with a synth-plucked string loop providing the main melody. "Beit Nuba" and "Ferdowsi" stand out as being two of the most ambient tracks in the Muslimgauze catalog; the beat is present in both, but it's heavily mixed down. "Opel" has much more of a rough electronic/industrial feeling to it than many of the Muslimgauze tracks from around the same time, which is an interesting and unexpected touch for the album; while "Shouf Balek" is equally heavy on the electronics, the effect is much more tinny and chintzy. Rather surprisingly, "Infidel" was chosen as a single from the album; given that it doesn't stand out all that much from any other average Muslimgauze track, its selection seems based on whim more than anything else.
Muslimgauze - Citadel (flac 266mb)
01 Citadel 5:03
02 Dharam Hinduja 4:55
03 Opel 6:53
04 Masawi Wife & Child 7:31
05 Infidel 5:13
06 Shouf Balek 5:03
07 Beit Nuba 6:46
08 Ferdowsi 5:09
Muslimgauze - Citadel (ogg 116mb)
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Noteworthy for its attractive paperboard, intense blue ink packaging alone, Maroon isn't just all looks; the first piece, the brief "Intro," is a mini-masterpiece of echoed singing and punchy digital beats, at once an expected track from Muslimgauze and something just a little bit different. While not completely a distinct change from the past or an undisputed high point of his career, Maroon does have Bryn Jones again doing what he loves to do and, for the most part, doing it very well indeed, with little changes thrown in along the way. The first "Thimble Cups of Urdu" demonstrates this nicely; while initially reminiscent of such zoneouts as Veiled Sisters, the intricate layering of many different percussion lines, rising and falling within the mix, along with buried bass and eerily soft keyboards, quickly establishes it as being a much more complex beast. The first "Harem of Dogs," meanwhile, is a flat-out winner, beginning with a sudden, high-volume shimmer of synth strings leading into the main piece; it's very upfront, in comparison to many similar pieces which take a more relaxed approach, and it really conveys the flavor of actually being in the middle of something, thanks in part to the many conversational snippets shot through the mix and left relatively free of production touches. The second "Harem" has a similar feel but its own distinct part, when nothing but a reverse cymbal loop obsessively plays on before the strings slide back in one last time. The remaining tracks on the album aren't quite as distinct as these numbers in particular, but together they all result in another generally fine Muslimgauze release.
Muslimgauze - Maroon (flac 368mb)
01 Intro 1:56
02 Thimble Cups Of Urdu 6:46
03 Maroon Of Gaza 8:33
04 Harem Of Dogs 7:09
05 Harem Of Dogs 6:55
06 Thimble Cups Of Urdu 6:13
07 Blood Of Salah Jadallah 7:58
08 Stars Of Golan Heights 7:46
09 Blood Of Salah Jadallah 7:50
Muslimgauze - Maroon (ogg 150mb)
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Muslimgauze expands into ever-more lengthy projects with this three-disc release, each disc being at least an hour long and separately titled. On Fatah Guerrilla, Bryn Jones manages a neat encapsulation of the various styles and phases of Muslimgauze, intentionally or not, over the course of the entire work. The first disc, Muhammadunize, has what could be called a classic feel to it, with a very familiar blend of drones, string instruments, and synths, and varying percussion/breakbeat patterns, in turn mixed with a number of hard-to-catch vocal samples. It's a formula used many times in the past by Jones, yet somehow he still manages to keep things just fresh enough, investing songs like the first and second "Khalifate" and especially both slamming versions of "Imad Akel" with enough unexpected touches. He incorporates the basic power of his work in the tracks as well, with both beauty and a nervy, hard-to-define tension as the songs progress. Tajik and Persian Blind, the second disc, generally fits in the vein of Izlamaphobia or Deceiver -- the title track from the latter briefly resurfaces as "Deceive for Yourself" -- with the combination of massive beats (e.g., "Shisla Nain Royal Bidjar") and aggro-arty, Aphex Twin-styled production ("Dizurt"); the one-ringer "Negev Gulag," recorded three years previously, is thrown in as well. As might be guessed from its title, the final disc, Chechnya Over Dub, plays up the dub aesthetics which are always lurking at the heart of Muslimgauze's work -- though generally in more abstract and indirect senses than might be expected -- while also mixing and matching all of the previously mentioned strands, from the bass-heavy rumble of "Resume and Shaduf" to the utterly minimal ambience of "Sari of Acidic Colours." The whole release is a bit much to take all in a row, but the set is, nonetheless, another good effort from Jones.
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Muhammadunize) (flac 452mb)
1-01 Devour 9:56
1-02 Devour 9:52
1-03 Khalifate 9:39
1-04 Imad Akel 8:05
1-05 Khalifate 9:47
1-06 Imal Akel 6:20
1-07 Fatah Guerrilla 9:14
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Muhammadunize) (ogg 187mb)
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Tajik and Persian Blind) (flac 413mb)
2-01 Shishla Nain Royal Bidjar 4:22
2-02 Minaret Above All Others 4:53
2-03 Saleem Bou 5:07
2-04 Khidmutghar One/Two/Three 10:06
2-05 Dizurt 7:28
2-06 Imam Shamil 1837 3:25
2-07 Enjinn 5:20
2-08 Dacoit Guild 2:04
2-09 Deceive For Yourself 1:26
2-10 Anti-Arab Media Censor 4:50
2-11 Negev Gulag 7:17
2-12 Hakeem Alkimi 4:15
2-13 Shaduf 1:33
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Tajik and Persian Blind) (ogg 186mb)
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Chechnya Over Dub) (flac 348mb)
3-01 Resume And Shaduf 5:35
3-02 Gifts From An Afghan 5:31
3-03 Pahlavi Engineer 7:56
3-04 Guilded Gulag Mind-er 2:42
3-05 Under The Influence Of Kolera 4:34
3-06 Devotion Of Abdul Karim 3:51
3-07 Camel Abuse Does Not Egzist In Mogadisu 4:19
3-08 Girl In A Red Turban 5:01
3-09 Peacock Headress 3:56
3-10 Sari Of Acidic Colours 4:54
3-11 Untitled 3:11
Muslimgauze - Fatah Guerrilla (Chechnya Over Dub) (ogg 160mb)
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