On December 30, 1998 Bryn Jones (Muslimgauze) was rushed to hospital, in Manchester, with an unknown illness. It turned out that he had a rare fungal infection in his blood stream. This infection seriously depleted his immune system and as is so often the case with severe illnesses he developed a severe case of pneumonia. Ultimately his body could not withstand the onslaught and on January 14 @ 22:50 GMT Bryn Jones passed away.
Bryn had only been with us for a short time (1961-1999) but he had a tremendous impact on many of our lives.
We will miss him terribly.
A very nice account of Bryn's trip to Stockholm, summer 1998. Marten Sahlen has done a wonderful job of putting his encounter with Bryn into words. A touching piece.
In addition to the fine job he did onthe above piece, Marten Sahlen sent along the following information to the Izlamphonia mailing list.
The fine people at the cultural ship M/S Stubnitz, where the show took place, have put up a 27 minute streaming Real Audio excerpt from the performance on their site, so you're all invited to go there and have a listen. The recording is rather lo-if but should be of interest nevertheless.
Go to http://www.stubnitz.com/ and then run a search for Muslimgauze. A video snippet should hopefully also be available at some point in the future.
note: Unfortunately the RealAudio stream is no longer available but there is a short RealMedia audio video piece.
A very special radio tribute to Bryn was done by Steffi & Tobias, of Black Channel. The show was originally aired on May 13, 1999. We are very grateful to them for having made the show available via RealMedia.
Bryn Jones (Muslimgauze) Memorial Show
It is an excellent couple of hours and is available at the Black Channel site.
Black Channel has been supporting dark, ritual, ambient, avant-garde, electro and experimental music for the past 10 years.
Click here to send Steffi and Tobias e-mail.
Recently (January 1999) we were hit with a great tragedy and loss and I would like to say something concerning this.
Bryn (Muslimgauze) was sick. I called the hospital and I found out that he had a strange infection and there was no effective treatment. Each time when I called he was worse so I had to go over to Manchester, to see him, even though he was heavily sedated and could not respond to anything. All we could do was sit with him and talk to him. I told him that he had to fight this thing, that we needed him to continua his story in sound and that this was not in the contract.
The next day I heard that they decided to stop his treatment because he was not responding and was deteriorating, that his lungs were not working and his kidney was not working and he had only a few hours left. We sat there and I held his hand, my legs were shaking and I was crying and I kept saying things to him and watched as he died.
I don't understand what happened, but that was Bryn. He kept things to himself and many things were a mystery to me but that was OK for his music was the important thing to him and to us. I liked to be with him even if I did not understand all of it. I remember talking with others and they mentioned that maybe the amazing production he had (I got one master a week and he was sending to Soleilmoon too.) was because he know that his life was short. This is possible but I will miss the excitement of getting that package in my mailbox and there was still so much to be done, I will miss him.
Geert-Jan Hobijn / Staalplaat
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Bryn Jones, the genius behind Muslimgauze. Bryn passed away January 14, late in the evening, at Manchester's Royal Northern Hospital. He was just 38. The cause of death was pneumonia following an infection of a rare blood fungus. He left the world young, but recorded enough music to last ten lifetimes, with some 90 releases going back to 1982. And he left Soleilmoon and Staalplaat with numerous unreleased albums, ensuring that his music will continue for years to come. 1999 was shaping up to be his breakthrough year, but fate intervened and took the brightest star from our sky.
Bryn, we miss you.
Charles Powne / Soleilmoon
Bryn Jones, the man behind Muslimgauze, passed away last Thursday (January 14, 1999).
Muslimgauze was one of the most prolific artists discussed in the pages of Vital Weekly. His amazing output, and of record companies willing to keep up with his energy, was often remarked and discussed. Unlike others, Muslimgauze, in his almost 20 years in the music scene, changed his style a lot. He went from laid-back ambient into digital distorted rhythms and back again. When he was asked to a do remix, he made not just 1 track, but often presented an hour long DAT, filled with finished tracks, sitting next to ideas and sketches. His constant presence with new releases, next to his controversial ideas about the Middle East (or at least controversial to some), and his apparent shyness, made him a somewhat mysterious figure, remote from the outside world. His passion was ours: good music. This creative individual has moved on, but his music (which undoubtedly includes more - posthumous - releases in the future) will most certainly survive.
Our best wishes and support go out to his family.
Frans de Waard/Staalplaat & Vital Weekly
I can remember the first time I heard Bryn's music (1984), it was so amazing, had so much intensity and feeling. I felt I had to know more about this fellow. I immediately found his address and wrote to him and from that point we started to write back and forth quite regularly. It was the only way I could get his releases, in Canada.
As I began to get to know Bryn a little better I was not only amazed by his musical output but by his dedication and the strength of his beliefs. He helped me to see so many things in different perspectives. He often told me how all he wished people would do was take a look at the events the music was driven by and maybe learn a little more about what was happening, in our world.
I came to cherish our friendship and finally brought the Muslimgauze word to the Internet. This was something I felt very strongly had to be done and was extremely honoured when Bryn allowed me to bring this project to life. I felt more people had to get a chance to experience this musical genius and wonderful human being. Even though Bryn had no interest in computers and never saw the site he would always thank me for the efforts on his behalf. It was never an effort. It was and will always be one of the great joys of my life.
I called one day to ask him some questions and with the intention of passing along my best wishes for the New Year. Bryn's father answered and proceeded to tell me of Bryn's situation. I was in complete shock, nothing could have prepared me for this. I kept in touch with his parents and the news just kept getting worse. I wanted so much to be there; to somehow tell Bryn that he couldn't just leave. He had so much more to do. When the word finally came that he had only a few hours left I was lucky enough to be able to at least talk to Geert-Jan (Staalplaat) at the hospital. We exchanged stories about Bryn; some made us smile and laugh, some made us sad. I had a very hard time holding back the tears but felt so much better knowing that friends and family were staying until the end.
This man was truly unique, gifted and kind. I spent every day waiting for news of the next Muslimgauze release and will truly miss that excitement. His passing has left a great hole in my life. I miss him terribly now and always will.
Thank you for the time you gave us Bryn and to me especially. A greater friend I could not have imagined. I believe you made a great impact on every life you came in contact with.
Terry Bennett/The Messenger & The Edge
I first heard of Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze around 1992, when I saw a review of one of his albums in a music magazine. I was particularly interested because I read that he was deeply influenced by the music and vibes of the Middle East and the Arab World. At this time I was building fairly basic dub tracks for sound system play only, and I was beginning to experiment with Eastern vocals and North African drum loops. I realised that Muslimgauze was one of very few artists working in the UK who was influenced by similar things to me so therefore I set out to find out more.
In a local store I encountered one of his CDs, I think it was "Zul'm", and was intrigued not only by the sounds contained within, but also the vibe and ambience of the album. A couple of years later, my friend Simon Scott from Tandoori Space Records in Leeds introduced me to more of the music from Muslimgauze, and also stated that he knew Bryn. Around this time I was still running my own Dub Me Crazy night in Bradford and Simon said he would bring Bryn over to a session.
I was surprised to discover that Bryn was a quiet, humble and reserved individual on meeting him, very unlike the images portrayed on his album cover artwork. The next thing I knew was that a package of DATs arrived in the post from Bryn, completely unsolicited. The DATs contained a strange mixture of remixes from my debut "In Dub We Trust" set and were quite unlike anything I had heard before. I was to receive many more of these in the coming months and eventually a selection made their way onto the acclaimed "City Of Djinn" collection.
Bryn and I had now become not only friends, but also collaborators. This seemed to be a logical and natural development of our relationship. Although we had both come from very separate music scenes, we both shared a deep interest in the music and life of the Arab world. We then started to work together on this "Amahar" album which was recorded over a period of one year at my studio.
Working together was an unusual experience and often inspiring. I believe we both influenced each other a lot, and certainly the final recording session was particularly memorable for its' vibe and the way we seemed to gel together. We also had many bursts of laughter at some of the crazy ideas that we were thinking up, with Bryn being at his most inspired. I was not to realise it at the time, but I would never see Bryn alive again after this day.
I began 1999 with the shock news that Bryn was in hospital fighting for his life after contracting a rare blood fungal infection. Soon he was to develop severe pneumonia whilst in intensive care, and then he passed away on Thursday 14th January.
For me on a personal level I am immensely proud to have known and worked with Bryn. He was very selfless with his time and energy to provide two unique remix albums of my original songs, and was always eager and happy to make the journey to my studio to work on some new tracks. Not a day goes by without me thinking of him and it is still hard to believe that he is no longer with us in person on the planet. However, I strongly believe that our souls live on after own physical death, and I am sure that Bryn is still here in spirit and that his ideas and music will live on through all the people he inspired in his life.
Thank you and Goodbye Bryn. May you Rest in Peace.
Allahu Akbar - God is the Greatest
The Rootsman/Third Eye Music (29/1/1999)
On January 14 the prolific Manchester artist Bryn Jones, known more widely as Muslimgauze, died as a result of a fungal infection. Since forming Muslimgauze in 1982, Bryn had produced over 90 releases on all possible formats - originally his own vinyl label, then CDs and MiniDiscs and recently a series of mPEGs available over the Internet. A few of these have been reviewed in Ambience and some additional ones are in the pipeline. In simple terms Muslimgauze produced a percussion led, middle eastern influence music which swings between languid ambience and the edges of current electro-techniques. Within the extensive discography there is surprising variation - people said 'you've heard one Muslimgauze, you've heard them all' and while it is true the musical direction and influences come from a narrow lode, Bryn extracted a wealth of ore from it by exploring in many directions. Perhaps an aspect discussed even more than the number of releases was Muslimgauze's politics. Albums have confronting titles, covers, song names: all supporting the Palestinian and wider Muslim cause. Whether you agreed with the militancy or the cause, the presentation of the albums made you think, while the music evoked the feelings and moods of the places through music and samples. The world has lost an individual musical voice. The music remains. Vale, and thank you.
Jeremy Keens / Ambience
Bryn Jones, who recorded dozens of CDs of experimental music under the name Muslimgauze, died on January 14 in Manchester, England. He was 38.
The cause was pneumonia derived from a rare fungal infection in his blood stream, said Geert-Jan Hobijn, who released Mr. Jones music on his Dutch record label Staalplaat.
Muslimgauze occupied a strange place in the musical world. He was a powerful, prolific innovator, releasing albums that were alternatively beautiful and visceral, full of ambient electronics, polyrhythmic drumming and all kinds of voices and sound effects. The recordings earned him a devoted following in underground, experimental and industrial music circles worldwide.
But the albums' liner notes and titles were dogmatically pro-Palestinian, a rarity among Western musicians in general but especially unusual in one from Manchester who was not Muslim and had never visited the Middle East. Some said Mr. Jones was aiming for shock value, but those who knew him described him as a shy, mysterious man who was serious in his political beliefs and never wavered from his commitment to music.
He began making music in 1982, Mr. Jones said, as a response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Each album was inspired by a political event, from massacres to peace accords. In notes to albums like "United States Of Islam", Mr. Jones wrote that " support for the P.L.O. has be a source for influence upon the music of Muslimgauze".
Mr. Jones recorded 92 albums with titles like "Hamas Arc" and "Vote Hezbollah", references to militant Islamic groups. He released some music only on DAT tapes and one album packaged with tables tennis paddles (a limited edition of 500, dedicated to the Iranian female Olympic table tennis team), and he was known for his provocative artwork.
The cover of an album from 1993 featured a close-up of Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, clasping hands after their historic peace accord with the album title "Betrayal", emblazoned on Mr. Arafat's hand. As his career progressed, Mr. Jones became more prolific, sending his record label tapes for one album a week.
Mr. Hobijn said he had enough material to release Muslimgauze albums five more years.
Neil Strauss / New York Times (January 28, 1999)
Prolific British avant-rock composer Bryn Jones, who recorded under the moniker Muslimgauze, died this weekend in a Manchester hospital after contracting what doctors described as "a rare blood fungus that ravaged his immune system." He was thirty-five years old. (ed. thirty eight actually) As Muslimgauze, Jones - who kept a very low public profile - recorded more than ninety full-length albums over the course of the past fifteen years. His compositions were often minimal, usually percussion-based and peppered with elements of Middle Eastern culture. Jones said that he was inspired to undertake the Muslimgauze project after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1983: Subsequent albums like Hebron Massacre, Abu Nidal and Vote Hezbollah also painstakingly explored troubles in that region. Despite the contentious tone of his rhetoric - in interviews and album packaging, Jones openly advocated the terrorist tactics of what he viewed as "oppressed peoples" trying to "throw off the shackles of their enslavers" - Muslimgauze's music was usually pacific and ethereal. The last full-length album that he completed, Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gass, will be released in America early next month by Soleilmoon Records . . .
The RSN Staff (January 19, 1999) / Rolling Stone
On January 15, 1999, listeners of ambient/experimental/ethnic sounds lost one of their most unique "voices". In a Manchester, England hospital, Bryn Jones succumbed to a rare, fatal blood fungus; Muslimgauze is no more.
It's no exaggeration to say Jones was fanatically devoted to his cause; since his first recording in 1982, he protested the ongoing Palestinian / Israeli / Arab socio-political controversies with a phenomenal number of recordings, almost 90 releases (with several more pending).
His percussion-filled instrumentals were filled with samples taken from newscasts, film and documentary tapes, all of which infused his work with Middle Eastern overtones. Without lyrics, his feelings of injustice were more implied than overtly cried out, though his song and album titles were often pointedly straightforward in their condemnation.
In February of 1998, thanks to Terry Allan Bennett, I was able to correspond with the enigmatic and opinionated Jones in the Muslimgauze interview if you wish to refer to that. On-site reviews of Jones' work include the Blue Mosque 2-CD, as well as the Beyond the Blue Mosque compilation.
Of course, Terry's Official Muslimgauze Web site is the source of information, including Jones' amazing discography, loads of reviews, and much more.
I close this memorial by pointing out two short reviews of earlier Muslimgauze releases in this month's Overviews.
My condolences to Bryn Jones' family and friends who can never replace him, but will hopefully take some comfort in knowing he touched the lives of many. His listeners at least can still get to know Jones through his extraordinarily large legacy of recorded material.
David Opdyke / AmbiEntrance
Jan. 27, 1999 It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Bryn Jones on January 14, 1999. Enigmatic to an extreme, Bryn recorded over 90 releases (to date) under the moniker of Muslimgauze - his on-going musical appeal to the plight of the Palestinian peoples. Preferring to allow his music to speak his politics and outrage, he produced a prodigious amount of material that is unmatched in its passion and melding of raw sound, location recordings, beats, and ethnic instrumentation. There was an advert last year that listed his live show as an evening of "Arabic electro-acoustic tribalistic fusion." That barely covers the dense atmospheres which his records produced.
Last year he released sixteen titles for a total of more than twenty hours of music. The joy in keeping up (or trying to) as a listener was the sense of discovery and forceful direction that went with each release. There were things Bryn wanted to say with Muslimgauze - and he did - but there was much more that he had yet to say. It was inspirational to see someone push their craft forward so consistently and with such conviction. I followed Muslimgauze not just because the music was amazing, but because it was breath-taking to be linked with an artist who really strived to accomplish something with his art.
Mark Teppo / Earpollution
The world has lost an extraordinary rare talent. The artist Bryn Jones, who recorded music under the name "Muslimgauze", died on January 14, 1999 as a result of contracting a rare blood fungus.
I've followed his work closely since first hearing it in '91 or '92. I've collected over 40 recordings from his enormous discography. His relentless rhythms work their way into the deepest, darkest recesses of the receptive listener's mind, evoking the total spectrum of human drama; sometimes extremely violent, unpleasant and confused, sometimes subtly pulsating with the sensuous rhythm of organic life.
Bryn Jones created the anthems of future nations; they hold out the promise of liberty which is the birthright of every human being.
Using acoustic percussion instruments, drum machines, electronic effects, whatever was at hand apparently, Bryn Jones produced some of the most powerful and unique music ever created. His work is completely uncompromised, he remained absolutely true to his personal vision. Their is nothing else like it. Bryn Jones was an artist of the highest caliber.
L.J. Altvater (January 19, 1999)
Black Anorak and Sandals
I began work at Decoy Records in Manchester the week Miles Davis died, in September 1991, ostensibly as world music buyer. The brief of this work soon mushroomed beyond all recognition, as areas of my own private interest became increasingly desirable in a retail context. In one word, we are talking (((dub))) and its influence on most musical forms these days.
People in Manchester were just starting to regain their sleep patterns after the house music explosion of the late eighties. Club music had become increasingly formulaic, as the rest of England and Europe caught on to this shift in the musical palates. In Manchester some people were looking for something else.
A valued customer of mine faxed us from the oil-rig he worked on, asking about a few items in the latest Wire magazine. One of these was an Australian release, ' Zul'm' by Muslimgauze, on the Extreme label. 'That rings a bell', I said brightly, not knowing why at this point. Later, after reading the review it began to occur to me that this name was familiar to me from a few years previously.
In the eighties, everyone in Manchester looked to 'On The Wire' on BBC Radio Lancashire for guidance in new music. Each Sunday DJ Steve Barker would play anything from blues and gospel, through dub and cultural reggae, to hip-hop, electro and credible house music. Each show was famously peppered with unreleased gems from the on-u sound crew. Steve even apparently used to turn up with King Tubbys dubplates of a goodly weight, just on the off chance he actually might need them late in the show.
I recalled hearing a show back then, which seemed to feature some rather inaudible dialogue with a fascinating rhythm and someone detuning middle-eastern radio sources. At the time I probably dismissed it as bad reception. In true comic style, my father often did the vacuuming during this show, affecting my reception and driving me crazy into the bargain.
As these thoughts began to filter through, I decided to call Mr. Barker as he was now a customer of mine at Decoy. He answered promptly. I began to explain the situation. Steve was bemused but most obliging. 'Sure, I have his number. The guy is called Bryn (Jones) and he lives in Salford.' [Salford is as big as Manchester and adjacent, although it is usually omitted by people who have no historical knowledge of the north west of England] Steve remarked that I should explain who gave me the number, as Bryn was quite a quiet and private man. I thanked him and set about my call.
'Hello. I am phoning from Decoy Records in central Manchester. Steve Barker gave me your number. I am very interested in obtaining some of your music. I have a customer asking and I think we may be able to sell some if we stock it.' The owner's always encouraged us to look for new stuff that might be of interest or viable for the shop to sell.
Quietly but firmly 'NOBODY STOCKS OR SELLS MY MUSIC IN THIS COUNTRY' were the first words I heard from Bryn. A little taken aback, I attempted to show I was well intentioned, by asking about other releases apart from "Zul'm". there was another sizable pause .
'IT SOUNDS LIKE I HAD BEST COME DOWN THERE.' That was the end of the call.
To my amazement, within the hour, an unusual chap walked into Decoy with a cardboard box tucked under his arm. It was clearly Bryn. I was a little surprised at the instantaneous response, and his appearance could certainly have been deemed atypical. He was wearing a black plastic anorak and sandals. We shook hands and exchanged greetings and introductions. Then he opened the box and I began shopping! I cannot exactly recall everything I took off him that day, but the variety of labels releasing his music was represented. I was impressed to see American and Dutch releases next to the two or three from Extreme. I asked how the Australian label came to contact him. Bryn gave a dark look and indicated a certain amount of displeasure with Extreme, as ever with Bryn in the politest fashion imaginable.
He was also refreshingly dismissive of the latest things, unaware of the sound or even the names of any other music. Muslimgauze were always referred to as 'we' or in the third person. At this time it seemed to me that Bryn must be working with some significant musicians, given the sophisticated and innovative feel of tracks like 'Benazir Bhutto'. The break-beat on this tune had most recently been employed on a big hit, fool's gold by Manchester's own Stone Roses. I was pleasantly surprised that Bryn seemed cheerfully oblivious to this recent history and had manufactured something completely his own from this classic tune. I believe this ability to see Muslimgauze music standing outside all other, helped Bryn later in his career when he began to look further into the dubwise routes available to him.
Time was beginning to press, so I asked Bryn what he wanted for his discs as there were all nationalities and a few different formats in the handful of releases he had with him.
'I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT. JUST GIVE US WHATEVER YOU THINK'. This was to become a familiar Bryn statement as he either rubbed the back of his neck with a tabla-stained hand and/or shook his head laughing. He never had any ideas for price what his stuff was worth and other such considerations. Yet he was very pleased when I gave him about £150 for the contents of his box and he elected to leave. We parted with 'see you again / soon'. From this day, things were never quite the same again.
Simon Tonkinson (Old Trafford - August 4, 1999)
Bryn Jones, the prolific artist behind Muslimgauze died earlier this year after contracting a rare blood fungus. Although taken to a hospital for the resulting pneumonia, Jones' condition deteriorated irreversibly until his death.
Staunchly critical of Israeli's occupation of Palestine, Jones gathered inspiration from a diverse & beautiful Islamic culture, weaving found sounds, self-taught percussion & poetic atmospheres into amazing, fantastic soundscapes.
As we circle, hungry for the latest IDM/EBM/KMFDM hype, we would do well to pay our respects to a man who never, once, used a sampler or sequencer in his 16 year, critically lauded & artistically influential body of work with nearly 100 releases.
Bryn Jones' unquenchable passion to create, & unfailing desire to open new worlds for those who would listen suggests we have seen the passing of a true artist. He has my respect.
Austin Govella (Object-A Magazine)
There are many sites covering Muslimgauze and the projects of the late, lamented Bryn Jones. Here are some words as a mark of respect to him and also to Staalplaat/Soleilmoon who did (and still do) a first class job of presenting his legacy.
We wrote to Bryn in the summer of 1997 to see if he had any advice about setting up a label/vehicle to release independent music - we thought that he might know a thing or two - having worked with a number of labels. Plus, being into his 'stuff ' for years, we saw Bryn as a great example of pursuing your own musical goals without consideration for fashion or the opinions of the fickle music press. Alas, the inspiring words didn't materialise - instead we read his words of utter honesty - "I am the last person to ask!" - written in his characteristic scrawl.
We were lucky enough to witness one of the rare live UK outings. It was 1997 at The Duchess of York in Leeds - 'An evening of Muslimgauze and Celtarabia' --- The place was packed to the gills --- and the percussionists from Celtarabia added further force to the 'gauze set.
After the performance, when everyone had rushed to the bar to grab a last pint or three, we talked with Bryn about his future releases and projects. He seemed (obviously) exhausted but also distracted and preoccupied - with hindsight you wonder whether or not he was experiencing the first symptoms of the illness that led to his tragic passing.
Among the many critiques of Muslimgauze's vast output, a few have stated that all his material 'sounded the same' ..... er....well you could say that about classical music.....if you also had cloth ears! Ironic when you look at releases like the excellent "Azzazin" or "Vampire of Tehran" which were moving in altogether different directions. The Muslimgauze listener will always be wondering what Bryn would be producing today. There are bound to be some cynics who read this page, but it's just our small gesture of admiration to this unique and influential Manchester lad.
"...wa alekum Salaam..."
BEWARE OF IMITATIONS!
Tim Jones & Barry Williams (Fflint Central HQ)