Muslimgauze/Beyond The Blue Mosque

Beyond the Blue Mosque Muslimgauze:Beyond The Blue Mosque
(Staalplaat - 1996)

Beyond The Blue Mosque is a compilation of tracks which originally appeared on several of Muslimgauze's limited edition releases on Staalplaat.

The notes list eight tracks (but the disc actually contains nine) gathered from Izlamaphobia, Azzazin, Return of Black September, Deceiver, and the Zealot 10".

When you think Muslimgauze you think ethnic percussion and lots of it; thusly Vanilla Jellaba, the opener, quickly gives way to a delightfully unrestrained pounding, which is joined by droning organ chords. Things stop and start and disintegrate into what seems to be tape cut-ups. A most spirited piece, and my favorite here.

Track two is Track 9, notable for its total lack of beats. It's 1:49 of oscillating electrical tones. Libya (extract) is a longer piece featuring a banjo-like strumming (I don't know what the Middle-Eastern counterpart to a banjo is called...), occasional meandering beats and cymbal taps, intermixed with intermittent Arab/Israeli(?)-language vocal snippets and sound effects. It seems very soundtrack-like, and I'm assuming the clips come from movies and/or TV.

The track fades directly into Najibullah Headless, a chiming, crunchy distortion-fest. A driving bassline, backed by a more rock-ish beat accompanies super-flanged electronics. Deceiver is the marathon track, at over 24 minutes in length. Much quieter than the previous cut, it mixes piping reeds with low percussion in various incarnations. Bongo beats, tapping cymbals, pattering jars, vocal snippets, bursts of feedback... it's a veritable mish-mash of the "usual" elements... not that this is a bad thing. The length adds to the total immersive atmosphere.

Beseej bangs more forcefully, blending male and female voices into the mix. Somehow militaristic, but not blatantly so. Track 12 and 13 is/are listed as track eight. Both are taken from Azzazin  and like their partner Track 9 (that's track two on this  disc), both are short (2- and 3-minutes respectivley), beatless electronic pulsations. The former is a bit louder the the latter.

The quiet gives way to the blare of Help of Hamas. Swells of feedback and some distorted instrument(?) loop repetitively without percussive accompaniment. Not an especially exciting closer unfortunately.

Of course Bryn Jones infuses every Muslimgauze project (and there are many ) with heaping political/social overtones which I'm not equating into this review. We're just about the sounds here.

This disc contains more sonic variety perhaps than The Blue Mosque, but some of the other sounds aren't particularly enlivening... just not "Muslimgauzey" enough. More for the intermediate collector than for the initiate, I declare Beyond the Blue Mosque  to be a One-Thumb Up recap of tracks you'd probably never hear otherwise.
If you want to know more about Bryn Jones, the enigmatic persona behind Muslimgauze please refer to our Exclusive AmbiEntrance Interview, or report to the Offical Website, Muslimgauze - The Messenger, created and maintained by Terry Allen Bennet.
This review posted March 7, 1998

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