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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Shorter than many of Muslimgauze's 1990s albums -- 13 untitled songs over 45 minutes -- Azzazzin, originally released as part of the limited-edition subscription series, feels more like a collection of random experiments than a cohesive piece of work per se. If not something that would intrigue the casual listener, the hardcore fan will likely find something of interest on the various tracks here. Starting with an extremely minimal opening number -- it's no surprise Finnish experimental duo Pan Sonic are Muslimgauze fans, based on this track -- Azzazzin has a much more electronic feeling than most of Bryn Jones' other albums, eschewing the traditional elements used elsewhere for a rough, quietly aggressive and disturbing feel. Comparisons with Aphex Twin aren't too far off the mark here, but this is still clearly a Muslimgauze release than any sort of ripoff. The fourth track, with its unpredictable keyboard snarls over a low, quiet pulse, and the sixth and seventh songs, with distorted, high-pitched noise tones mixed with a soft series of bass notes and a slight spoken-word interjection from time to time, are some of the strong points from this intriguing release. Beats are used in an extremely limited way throughout Azzazzin, with rhythm, always a key component of Jones' work, more suggested at points by the nature of the keyboard lines than anything else. Closing with an equally minimal track, Azzazzin won't be everyone's cup of tea, but adventuresome listeners will find themselves rewarded.
Muslimgauze - Azzazin (flac 246mb)
01 Untitled 4:29
02 Untitled 5:02
03 Untitled 2:21
04 Untitled 4:57
05 Untitled 5:45
06 Untitled 5:13
07 Untitled 2:00
08 Untitled 1:03
09 Untitled 2:11
10 Untitled 4:11
11 Untitled 2:10
12 Untitled 2:01
13 Untitled 3:27
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Boldly named after one of the most notorious Palestinian terrorist organizations, the group which carried out the Israeli Olympic athlete massacre in 1972, Return of Black September matches its dark black artwork and design with equally doom-laden music (mastered as one track, despite the five separate song titles listed on the back). The title track relies on a slightly more gentle ominousness, with soft string plucking reverberating around the beat, but things start to pick up accordingly with the more aggressive, sharp-edged electronics shading into a tense blend of percussion and energy on "Libya"; after shading away into a more minimal midsection, the track returns at a nervous, quick pace, with drums and drum pads firing off echoes into the mix as drones snake in and out of the song. One particularly gripping section has shards of noise firing off in all directions before settling back into the frazzled energy of the central beat, feeling like a soundtrack to a particularly good chase scene in a movie. "Thuggee" and its accompanying remix keep the unsettled edge up, with sudden drum and electronic pulse intrusions erupting over the main flow of the songs. It's interesting to hear how Bryn Jones' love of dub applies itself in even more creative and different ways than from his productions of some years before, exchanging the slow pace for a fast one and applying Krautrock drone principles. A nicely stretched out, creepy remix of Gun Aramaic's "Opiate and Mullah" wraps up this fine effort.
Muslimgauze - Return Of Black September (flac 448mb)
only 1 track index
Part 1 Return Of Black September 8:58
Part 2 Libya 22:52
Part 3 Thugghee 22:59
Part 4 Remix Of Return Of Black September 9:01
Part 5 Remix Of Opiate And Mullah 4:35
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"Saladin Mercy" begins Gun Aramaic on a familiar touch, perhaps almost too familiar; while a certain consistency to Muslimgauze's work is no surprise, Bryn Jones generally varies things from album to album just enough to create distinct, different listening experiences for each release. Still, "Saladin Mercy" feels like something which easily could have been on his previous Soleilmoon/Staalplaat release Maroon, with its blend of the drones from earlier pieces and the more recent tweaking and heavy variety in the rhythms throughout the song. The following track, the first "8 am, Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad," sets things more to rights, with a combination of sharp pulses, echoing roars, and what sounds like a domestic squabble between a couple caught on tape -- a characteristically strange combination which again works out quite nicely in the end. A little more than most Muslimgauze releases, Gun Aramaic is very environmental in terms of its composition; the reliance on conversational snippets throughout almost turns the album into a soundtrack for a non-existent film. As is often the case for Muslimgauze, the most fascinating elements of Gun Aramaic often are the simplest, such as the persistent, slow-rising beat in the first "Opiate and Mullah," or the shift from near silence to an elegant, slightly creepy keyboard arrangement about thirteen minutes into "Oil Prophets (pt. 1, 2, 3)." Gun wraps things up on a very moody note with the dark rumblings concluding "Oil Prophets (pt. 4, 5)" and the quite brief but deep, moody drones of the second "Opiate and Mullah," making for a slightly unexpected end to a fair album.
Muslimgauze - Gun Aramaic (flac 388mb)
01 Saladin Mercy 7:12
02 8 AM, Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad 9:18
03 Opiate And Mullah 6:47
04 Oil Prophets (Pt 1, 2, 3) 16:53
05 8 AM, Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad 9:26
06 Lazzaream Ul Lepar 1:56
07 Oil Prophets (Pt 4, 5) 11:19
08 Opiate And Mullah 0:29
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In title and general design meant to be the sequel to the first Gun, Part 2 turns out to be a slightly different beast in the end, one which in the end turns out to be rather more interesting than the original album. The one-two opening punch of the first "Sikh Needle" and "Shia Psalm" provides yet another fantastic start to a Muslimgauze release, the first track being based around an extremely atypical noise/rhythm collage mixed with sudden percussion and sample interjections, while the second begins with a similar wash of noise and conversation before breaking into a great hip-hop loop, distorted, tweaked and overlaid with other beats as it goes. This in turn settles in a barely-there midsection, with buried notes and beats gently rising out of nowhere, before returning to the original elements of the song, which then is further mixed with more expected Muslimgauze elements (acoustic percussion, moody keyboards) to create a masterful ending. Going from there into the crisp, minimal cymbal beat that starts the second "Sikh Needle," Part 2 surges from strength to strength, increasingly exploring breakbeats as a newer weapon in Bryn Jones' particular sonic arsenal, while also further refining his basic sonic approach. The attractive shimmer of metallic chiming mixed with a similarly metronomic beat and a series of interwoven vocal samples on the first "Sharia Limb," not to mention unexpected jolts of noise and harsh, relentless beats and clatters leading into a wheezing ambient wash punctuated with further conversational snippets, all on the second "Sharia Limb," are just two highlights worthy of note.
Muslimgauze - Muslimgauze - Gun Aramaic, part 2 (flac 333mb)
01 Sikh Needle 1:31
02 Shia Psalm 9:12
03 Sikh Needle 6:47
04 Saladin Mercy 6:59
05 Sharia Limb 6:40
06 Sharia Limb 5:35
07 Shai Psalm 12:28
08 Alms And Gold Dust 0:58
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