Krist Novoselic: I've Been Listening to Muslimgauze, and Contemplating the Composer's Politics

Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. He checks back in every Friday to write about what he's been listening to.
Muslimgauze  "Exit Afganistan" (Speaker of Turkish): I first heard Muslimgauze in 1999 with the CD United States of Islam. The combination of driving and esoteric beats was mesmerizing. Muslimgauze is the work of the late Bryan Jones who hailed from Manchester, England. He was a prolific composer who, on a lot of his arrangements, could take Middle Eastern beats and sounds as far out as he could go. I mean really far out, with disjointed drum sounds buried under harsh distortion.

I have to cock my ear, but it becomes somewhat clear, in my mind at least, what he's up to. Sometimes this straining can wear a listener down, therefore I find Muslimgauze releases can be hit or miss. However, Speaker of Turkish is an excellent, and quite satisfyingly clear blend of Middle Eastern sounds and rhythms with Jones' daring style of mixing.

Another aspect of Muslimgauze is how political the titles and art work can be. Notice that I didn't say music, because it's instrumental, except for murmurs and mysterious voices that often emerge from the many layers of sounds and rhythms. Jones, who was a Brit, took a pro-Arab position in the conflicts in the Middle East. But there are no long liner notes about politics, it's the song titles and artwork that convey the message / image. This aspect can be the subject of an entire other column, if not more, but let's not open that can of worms - which I've probably done anyway.

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