Label: Staalplaat – Muslimlim 011
Series: Muslimgauze Subscription – 011
Format: CD, Album, Limited Edition, Numbered, Digipak
Released: 11 Nov 1997
Style: Ambient, Experimental, Tribal
So, so good. I have by no means heard everything Bryn Jones released, his earliest stuff being a bit of a black spot for me in particular – I’m getting there, though! Having said that, I have been listening to his stuff for close to 15 years now and this, for me, is his best work.
The Muslimgauze material I love the most is the stuff that really conveys an exoticism and otherness. Keyboards that drift like a Saharan wind, Middle Eastern percussion, electronic pulses, sudden bursts of distorted drums and voices. And, of course, those vocal passages, either from the passionate tongues of Arab and Persian peoples, or in English. Sandtrafikar has this all in abundance and it is executed in the most intoxicating way.
The two versions of the title track are so well balanced, almost restrained. One uses a primarily electronic rhythm to underpin it, while the other uses more acoustic percussion. Both, however, feature the same brooding keyboard line, touches of what sounds like an Iranian santur and the recital of lines from some unidentifiable, deep-voiced speaker of Arabic. What’s he saying? Who knows? But it sends a chill down your spine whatever his words are.
The two versions of Baku Oil Field use more electronic trickery, employing phased drones and bleeps alongside the blasts of hand percussion. The tension builds as the noise rises. Shards of an oud-like instrument spin out without warning. Someone intones without emotion, and in American English, that there is damage to the optic nerve of some unfortunate individual. A war casualty? A victim of a workplace accident at the titular oil field? Again, no context is provided and it makes it all the more mysterious.
With the looped interlude tracks providing short breathers and a churning Rootsman remix at the end, this is a highly recommended release. Not sure if it’s one to start your Muslimgauze journey with (maybe try something like Vampire of Tehran for that) but you could soon graduate to this truly epic and deeply satisfying entry in the mammoth Bryn Jones back catalogue.
Review by AllyKarate