Muslimgauze
Iranair Inflight Magazine Staalplaat http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton1435_0.jpg

[Staalplaat; 2003]

Rating: 3/5 3 / 5 (0)

Styles: middle eastern, percussive, political, electronic
Others: Pan Sonic, Kid 606, Autechre


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Muslimgauze reviews tend to be a little annoying in that writers usually find a way to avoid dissecting the album at hand. Usually I skip over the first paragraph because, in some way or another, it only mentions Muslimgauze: Bryn Jones, extremely prolific (100 plus albums), pro Palestinian, died in 1999 of a rare blood disease. His political view certainly informed the music he was making, and these details shouldn't be glossed over. But even the casual Muslimgauze listener is probably aware of these details, and now I've just fallen into the same "first paragraph trap" that I criticized other writers of. 

Like Merzbow, most Muslimgauze fans are not content with stopping at five, ten, even 20 albums. Also like Merzbow (or any prolific artist of superhuman proportions) if you dabble in an album here and there, it all may sound alike. Though fans with a vast knowledge of the catalog will tell you the albums are very much like a family of trees. All Sequoia trees look alike, yet each one is unique and grows in its own way. Iranair Inflight Magazine was made towards the end of Bryn Jones’s life and in addition to countless others (this man must have recorded about an album a week), has only recently been released for the first time. Record labels were simply not able to keep up with the prolific Jones while he was alive. 

This is a mostly beat driven album with little background noise, ambient space, or reverb. There is also no big emphasis on Middle Eastern sounds, which (and you should be figuring this out by now) is a frequently occurring theme in Jones’ politically driven music. Occasionally there is some melodic material, or a touch of the Middle East sprinkled in but it's played down in favor of beats that could best be described as very raw and closer to early Autechre minimalism than something from the World Beat genre. Hiccupping along, distorted break beats sound like they were once made from real drums, but Mr. Jones has turned the gain up way too high and ripped the drums to shreds. Since then they’ve been heavily tweaked, turned into glitches, bloops, and blips. A downbeat gets set, only for it to sound like someone hit pause on the CD player. Machine-like loops reminiscent of Krautrock repetitiveness suck me in, only to be shut off without warning. As the beat finally starts to seduce me and I realize I could happily listen to the same repetitive thing for the duration of the CD, the plug gets pulled and the beat is deprived of oxygen just as it finally proved it could "groove."

These elements sound like the makings of another harsh, abrasive, Muslimgauze album that could seriously test the willpower of your speakers. On the contrary, Iranair Inflight Magazine is quite manageable on a lot of levels. Picture dub, only Muslimgauze forgot to bring a keyboard and also decided to turn off the stoned reverb. Bloops and blips, stops and starts, out of sync delays; all seems appropriate for the dub genre and yet I've never felt like my head was in a blender when listening to a Lee Perry mix. In the wrong hands, these qualities could be an earache, but somehow dub smoothes out all the imperfections and makes music that is warm and inviting. Although some other Muslimgauze releases would take pleasure in holding the listener's head hostage in a blender, Iranair Inflight Magazine takes unpolished fragments, and turns them into something very flowing and graceful.

With patience, what initially comes off as simple and unrewarding eventually opens up to an environment much larger than the sum of its parts. All seven tracks clock in between six and 11 minutes, so there’s plenty of time to sit back and get immersed. Compared to most late period Musilimgauze releases this is fairly average (but probably essential to any fan), which explains my 3/5 rating. Bryn Jones however, is a master of his craft and a conceptual visionary. It's certainly not a bad place to start in his enormously large body of work and compared to most music in the experimental electronica genre, it sits far above average.

Muslimgauze reviews tend to be a little annoying in that writers usually find a way to avoid dissecting the album at hand. Usually I skip over the first paragraph because, in some way or another, it only mentions Muslimgauze: Bryn Jones, extremely prolific (100 plus albums), pro Palestinian, died in 1999 of a rare blood disease. His political view certainly informed the music he was making, and these details shouldn't be glossed over. But even the casual Muslimgauze listener is probably aware of these details, and now I've just fallen into the same "first paragraph trap" that I criticized other writers of.
Like Merzbow, most Muslimgauze fans are not content with stopping at five, ten, even 20 albums. Also like Merzbow (or any prolific artist of superhuman proportions) if you dabble in an album here and there, it all may sound alike. Though fans with a vast knowledge of the catalog will tell you the albums are very much like a family of trees. All Sequoia trees look alike, yet each one is unique and grows in its own way. Iranair Inflight Magazine was made towards the end of Bryn Jones's life and in addition to countless others (this man must have recorded about an album a week), has only recently been released for the first time. Record labels were simply not able to keep up with the prolific Jones while he was alive.
This is a mostly beat driven album with little background noise, ambient space, or reverb. There is also no big emphasis on Middle Eastern sounds, which (and you should be figuring this out by now) is a frequently occurring theme in Jones' politically driven music. Occasionally there is some melodic material, or a touch of the Middle East sprinkled in but it's played down in favor of beats that could best be described as very raw and closer to early Autechre minimalism than something from the World Beat genre. Hiccupping along, distorted break beats sound like they were once made from real drums, but Mr. Jones has turned the gain up way too high and ripped the drums to shreds. Since then they've been heavily tweaked, turned into glitches, bloops, and blips. A downbeat gets set, only for it to sound like someone hit pause on the CD player. Machine-like loops reminiscent of Krautrock repetitiveness suck me in, only to be shut off without warning. As the beat finally starts to
seduce me and I realize I could happily listen to the same repetitive thing for the duration of the CD, the plug gets pulled and the beat is deprived of oxygen just as it finally proved it could "groove."
These elements sound like the makings of another harsh, abrasive, Muslimgauze album that could seriously test the willpower of your speakers. On the contrary, Iranair Inflight Magazine is quite manageable on a lot of levels. Picture dub, only Muslimgauze forgot to bring a keyboard and also decided to turn off the stoned reverb. Bloops and blips, stops and starts, out of sync delays; all seems appropriate for the dub genre and yet I've never felt like my head was in a blender when listening to a Lee Perry mix. In the wrong hands, these qualities could be an earache, but somehow dub smoothes out all the imperfections and makes music that is warm and inviting. Although some other Muslimgauze releases would take pleasure in holding the listener's head hostage in a blender, Iranair Inflight Magazine takes unpolished fragments, and turns them into something very flowing and graceful.
With patience, what initially comes off as simple and unrewarding eventually opens up to an environment much larger than the sum of its parts. All seven tracks clock in between six and 11 minutes, so there's plenty of time to sit back and get immersed. Compared to most late period Musilimgauze releases this is fairly average (but probably essential to any fan), which explains my 3/5 rating. Bryn Jones however, is a master of his craft and a conceptual visionary. It's certainly not a bad place to start in his enormously large body of work and compared to most music in the experimental electronica genre, it sits far above average.

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