Mix 37: Muslimgauze
(Bryn Jones: June 17th, 1961 – January 14th, 1999)
Rather than give a 3rd generation testimony and account of who Muslimgauze was and context for his prolific existence (especially and most notably over the past 13 years since he had passed away), I will instead offer my own relationship with what I consider to be one of the most inspiring artists I have ever had the pleasure of trying to keep up with (and "trying" is quite literal: he has over 250 releases, more than half of which - since his death, it's not easy).
Muslimgauze was in my peripheral for many years, but it was a 2002 reissue of "Izlamaphobia" that finally prompted direct contact. The label, Level Plane, had primarily put out hardcore and what was still referred to as "screamo", which despite the embarrassing (and in more recent years, re-appropriated) name, was a legitimate umbrella for spastic and chaotic music at the time. ...and to be completely fair to the genre, everything that Level-Plane had released prior to the Mulsimgauze double LP maintains notability for most people who were there. (see: City of Caterpillar, Off Minor, Usurp Synapse, Jeromes Dream, Neil Perry, Makara, Fortstella Ford, Pg. 99, etc - almost all of which I had booked shows for or played with in the Phoenix area).
So in other words, the Muslimgauze release was completely out of left-field for the label, but my thoughts were that if this guy is so focused and consistent over the first 5 years of being active, but is also dead set on doing this thing that most of his on-going contacts were probably not going to enjoy (and more so be alienated by) - it must be extremely important to him. And obviously, it struck a similar chord for me.
I would imagine that I own more of his releases than that of any other artist, and yet I don't even have half of what has made it's way out into the world. There is always more to stumble upon and there, at least so far, continues to be a few new releases each year (both archival material and reissues, but also recordings that had still yet to be released). ...and without touching on the political nature of his aesthetics, I believe he would be quite content with the direction his trusted peers have maintained as conflicts continue in the regions by which he was so intrigued by.
Although sometimes flirting with dance music, at other times veering off into almost complete noise, and occasionally being content with hardly existing at all - there is something that almost always clues you in that it's him. He would frequently use Middle Eastern percussion and sound samples in conjunction with elements of dub and drone - creating a sound that was so simple in some regards, yet drastically different than anything else. There's a feeling that is conveyed, a mood. Perhaps that what makes it click for certain people, I'm not sure. Regardless, if it does make that connection for you, it is the perfect music for living. His work is jaunting yet sedative, perplexing yet complimentary.
I was asked to make a mix for this site just after a move into a new home, and while unpacking box after box of forgotten small items I came across a two CD set I had made in 2006 or so. This set is not meant to be definitive by any means. It only scratches at the surface, and at that - only follows a particular series of vibes that were working best for me at the time. It was meant to have friends be intrigued by something that is also important to me, and I suppose that would be the same significance for, here and now.
***The Muslimgauze catalog is intimidating, and some releases more than others, can by quite expensive. Often times I am asked for a good starting point, but I don't like making that suggestion. However, I can compile other appreciators input comfortable, so that being said - I would suggest starting with "Lo-Fi India Abuse", which was available in a good amount as both a CD and LP. It should be easy to find and, undoubtedly, is incredible.