Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 18:01
CD Title: Alms for Iraq
Label: Soleilmoon Recordings
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
Before his sudden and untimely death, electronic artist Bryn Jones – better known as Muslimgauze – had a reputation for controversy. While his unabashedly pro-Palestinean political views and albums titled “United States of Islam” and “Salaam Aleikum, Bastard” probably didn’t help matters much, the fact is that his music is far less confrontational than his cover art. Based around brief snippets of Middle Eastern music and found sound, Jones’s songs have a simplicity to them that makes them feel timeless. On this latest archival release from Soleilmoon, clocking in at 76 minutes, this latest archival release has a little bit of everything: rhythmic complexity on “Madhat Basha,” strident noise on “Tamil Tiger S.O.S.,” and even funky breakbeats on “Hari Rupee.” Rather than sampling entire musical pieces, Jones opts instead to base his compositions around single, bite-sized pieces of sound – a few seconds of Arabic vocals on “Date Odeur,” for example, or a couple of notes from a flute on “Dark Bedouin Silver” – and this minimal repetition creates a far more trance-inducing effect than most so-called “trance” music. Using the same basic tools of minimal percussion and Mediterranean-tinged melodic fragments, Jones moves effortlessly from the ambient glitch music of “Divine Pink Jinn” to the more earthly acoustic tribalism of “Kapali Carsi Souk.” Long-time fans of Muslimgauze already know enough to buy this, but considering that Soleilmoon and Staalplaat each still have about five years’ worth of music in the archives (making Jones the most prolific deceased musician since 2Pac), this collection is as good a place as any for new fans to jump aboard. To make it even more worth your while, Soleilmoon has packaged it in an oversized cardboard sleeve complete with pictures of Palestinean protesters, American missiles, and anti-Bush graffiti from Iraq. Jones no doubt would’ve approved.
For more on Muslimgauze, visit the official site at http://www.pretentious.net/Muslimgauze/.