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Album Review

Given Muslimgauze's utterly vast discography, finding a starting point can be a difficult task. Happily, if a listener wants to take the plunge, there is at least one definite way to begin: with Zul'm. Benefitting from clear production, inventive and utterly listenable songs, and an overall sense of presentation that is breathtaking — not to mention a heavy toning-down of what for many listeners has been the hard-to-handle, overtly politicized nature of Muslimgauze's work — Zul'm succeeds on many different levels. "Fakir" begins the album superbly as a collage of Arabic and Indian percussion performed by guest musicians, accentuated by pounding drum rumbles at points, along with a variety of sitar sounds, vocal samples, motor noises, bells, and chimes throughout the mix. Lively and powerful, perhaps calling to mind a market or a joyous feast of celebration, the track stands as a definite Muslimgauze masterpiece. The rest of the album does equally well though on many different levels: "Curfew, Gaza," relies on pinpoint-precise electronic pulses mixed with the other percussion, claps, and bells to create a moody, tense feeling; "Afghan Black" applies drones and much echoing over the percussion to create a high, lonesome atmosphere that at once both invites and makes things feel on edge. The two versions of "Teheran by Train" both have a smoky, late-night feeling to them, with violin and flute samples working around the multilayered (though still comparatively relaxed) percussion and drum interplay. "Shiva Hooka" concludes the album proper with a slower, deliberate pace, as wafts of keyboards rise and float like clouds of smoke. Whether used as background music or given full attention, Zul'm showcases Muslimgauze at his truly unique, inspired best.


Born: 17 June 1961 in Manchester, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Bryn Jones was not a practicing Muslim and never went to the Middle East. His recordings as Muslimgauze, however, qualified him as one of the Western artists most explicitly slanted in his favor of the Palestinian liberation movement. Since the Manchester-native's works were instrumental, most of the political statement was inherent in the packaging: Witness titles such as Fatah Guerrilla, Return of Black September, Hebron Massacre, Vote Hezbollah, United States of Islam and The Rape of Palestine....
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Zul'm, Muslimgauze
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