Muslimgauze

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Kabul

Muslimgauze - Kabul ©1983 Product Kinematograph
1. Kaaba
2. Icon Screen
3. Muslin Gauze Muslim Prayer
4. Turkish-Koln
5. Melee
6. Kabul
7. Ex

Muslimgauze was the nom de plume of British musician Bryn Jones. Jones got his start in some obscure early 80s projects that were promptly overlooked by the vast majority of music listeners before developing the concept of Muslimgauze. This outlet of creativity was based on his obsession with the plight of Palestinian people and other oppressed groups in the Middle East. Oddly, he was not a practicing Muslim nor did he ever visit that region, but his album titles and covers often depicted controversial subjects or individuals. However, the music of Muslimgauze is suprisingly politics-free if you listen to it not knowing the back story. Jones was a studio rat, recording all the instruments himself with various analog synthesizers, drum machines, percussion and tapes of voices. His output is prolific as any individual you can care to name. To date, Mulsimgauze has close to two hundred releases (though that number includes a handful of reissues and compilations). This is more astounding considering Jones died in early 1999 and record labels have been releasing archival material ever since. Most of his releases have been limited edition items on a variety of small labels, making him the ultimate completist's nightmare.

Muslimgauze got going with a 7" single called Hammer and Sickle and a full length LP called Kabul. Obstensibly based on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Kabul is a sparse, echoing and abstract collection of rhythms, percussion and studio effects. There's a definite sense of primitism, particularly when one considers the technology of the time of its recording. Although Jones offers disembodied voices drenched in reverb and hints of synthesized sounds, the vast majority of this album focuses on drums, rhythm and beat. For many listeners, it very well may be far too abstract to digest and very obviously does not represent the percussive and rhythmic mastery of a much more experienced future Muslimgauze.

Kabul lacks the dissonance and sheer industrial violence of early Einsturzende Neubauten, but avoids some of the cartoony elements that characterized Foetus' first efforts. That is not to say Muslimgauze sounds like either outfit, but would potentially be appealing to fans of those bands. Kabul, while interesting in a historical sense, is a bit too abstract for my tastes.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2010

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Opaques

©1983 Product Kinematograph
1. Milena Jesenska
2. Cyst
3. Anatomy
4. Enfilade
5. Afrikaner
6. Taoist

Opaques is an early cassette release from Muslimgauze that finds Bryn Jones' concept still in its embryonic stages. The album, much like Kabul, is an abstraction of music featuring mostly percussive effects, reverb and sparse voice samples with the occasional synthesizer fill. There appears to be a mixture of live percussion and programmed drums. The rhythm patterns tend to be fairly inventive, but the reverb effects make this cassette come across like the demented dreams of a new wave drummer suffering the aftermath of one too many Robitussin benders. The eighteen minute "Taoist" is a drawn out example of percussion to dismay and unsettle most listeners.

This cassette, while unusual in approach, is not one that would be likely to be as intriguing as later Muslimgauze releases. Although it features the trademark percussion concepts, it is almost too sparse and stripped down for its own good. Good minimalistic music, at least to me, requires the feeling that a full song once existed, but then parts were taken out until a strong ambience is retained without all those fussy instruments cluttering up the sonic space. Opaques sounds more like a young musician still working out the ideas in his head to create his own defining sound and approach to music. This is only of interest to Muslimgauze completists.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2010

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Buddhist on Fire

Muslimgauze - Buddhist on Fire ©1984 Recloose
1. Soviet Occupied Territories
2. Turkisk Falaka
3. Priest
4. Reuters
5. Dissidents in Exile

By the time Buddhist on Fire came out in late 1984, Muslimgauze had moved away from the extreme abstractions of the first couple of releases and began to sprinkle some instrumentations into the percussion and rhythm patterns. This five song album, which reaches LP length in duration due to the rather long songs, is a considerable jump forward and may serve as a good point to dive in for those interested in this unbelievably prolific project.

Unlike some of the other percussion heavy contemporaries at the time, such as Einstürzende Neubauten, Muslimgauze retained a certain quiet ambience in the music. At no point does it sound like Bryn Jones ventured out to the local automobile junkyard to hit metal objects with other metal objects. The percussion still appears to be a mixture of drum machines and live instruments recorded by Jones himself. But what makes this album more compelling is the inclusion of other instruments, such as strings on "Turkisk Falaka", the heavy bass guitar in "Soviet Occupied Territories" or the haunting piano (or piano-like instrument) in "Priest". "Reuters" is a bit more aggressive and feels less introspective than the other tracks. The final track, "Dissidents in Exile", is over thirteen minutes long and sticks more to the old blueprint of percussion with little else injected into the mix. The music throughout this album also contains more sampled voices, adding a nice dimension.

Buddhist on Fire feels like a good, strong step forward for Muslimgauze, extracting the project from the simplicity of percussion and reverb into something a bit more developed and realized.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2010

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