The following appeared on Islamaphonia.
In 1998 MPEG audio layer compression technology was becoming widely known to the general population simply as "MP3". MP3 trading was quickly becoming the hottest thing online. In retrospect, with all the fervor surrounding this
revolution in music distribution technology, it is perhaps not so surprising that we found a musical release that year from that lone Mancunian known as Muslimgauze.
The spectrum of formats that Muslimgauze releases have spanned is very broad indeed. Excepting DVD and Video format, there really are few formats left. Although like a special gift from a friend for no particular reason, the free MP3 download release came as a surprise at the time, it seems appropriate even when one acknowledges that the artist himself was not a member of the Internet community.
With or without this techno-social cultural framework in mind, we may listen to the collection of musical arrangements collectively known as Fedayeen with both distraction and rapt attention. Draped in the oft worn robes of looped and fragmented percussion, Fedayeen is a whirling dervish dance upon a tightrope woven of trance induced visions and restless insomnia. Many of the tracks toss and turn anxiously for ten to nearly twelve minutes. Curiously nestled among them lies a 6 second track that is more of a misstep than an actual recording - as though the record button were accidentally bumped and the few seconds were burned permanently onto the collective whole. Fate dictated that it would stay.
The first track is one of Bryn's forays into the DnB world with lockstepping jungle-like beats. Of course it comes packaged in Bryn's signature break 'n repeat style. Nearly all the remaining are pulsating rhythmic bastard children burning up both the treble and bass ranges with hectic warbling resolution. Stop. Go. Disintegrate into opium-laced echoes... Stop again. These are the brushes with which Muslimgauze paints his canvas. These pieces are of course a mere ride across the searing expanse of deserts explored by the infamous Izlamaphobia, Farouk Enjineer, and many others which are the hallmark of the so-called "West Bank" sound. There is a subtle element here as well. Distant voices, lightly-strummed strings and gentle birds in the distance hum along quietly tucked away in the corners of the less urgent tracks.
The gem of this release truly is the final track. "Old Arab record, not on compact disc." is a complete departure from the rest of the music. This is the sly Bryn Jones interjecting the unexpected as he so frequently did into his music. For an artist with so many release and so much meticulous almost microscopic exploration of his unique style, he manages to cut sharply against the grain with a spoken word sample of an Arab recording blatantly lifted with no explanation. Preceded by an ultra minimalist blipping, the record begins and just plays and ends with what sounds like a World War II era diddy although it could just as easily be a 60s era Arabic campy commercial for dish soap. Unless one speaks Arabic, one cannot clearly say and therein lies the humor.
The original Fedayeen tracks were released as Staalplaat Muslimlim 019 and available for free download at www.earlabs.org and www.pretentious.net. Fedayeen has recently been re-released by Tantric Harmonies. The re-release features different cover art, it is a simple gatefold CD release with two cut and pasted figures against a backdrop of digitized sand dunes (designed by Tantra X) and is limited to 850 copies. The insert found in one side of the gatefold states "Also available as extra limited/numbered collector edition of 150 in dark green cardboard sleeve." The image shown on the insert shows a sparse cover with a calligraphic lion and the word Muslimgauze on the cover.
Fedayeen: "one who sacrifices himself"
review by Ares Solis
This text originally appeared on the Islamaphonia mailing list. (February, 2001)
see also Fedayeen & Melt
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Fedayeen Fedayeen (re-issue)
January 10, 2017