At The City Of The Dead
The first release of a collaboration between Portland, OR (USA) based dub band Systemwide and Muslimgauze . Prelude to the upcoming Systemwide and Muslimgauze full lengths to be released this fall on BSI.
Side A is Systemwide taking it out; two tracks of some of the heaviest, deepest dub coming out of anywhere. Side B is three tracks of Bryn's beautiful and crushing remixes of Systemwide material.
Tragically, Bryn died in January, during production of the record. In dialogue with close associates and friends of Bryn's, Systemwide decided to retain the original title, in order to try to preserve the integrity of the record as it was originally conceived; an insert with details will be included with each 12".
At the time of his passing, Bryn was making some of the strongest music of his career; this is some head nodding, trance inducing splendor.
Systemwide Meets Muslimgauze is the sister release of BSI 19992 - Sound Secretion: Sound Secretion Dub
Hand Crafted Record Sleeve / Limited to 500 copies.
Press release from BSI Records.The following is a review of that appeared in The Rocket. (ed. note: it also includes a review of a non Muslimgauze recording but so as not to infringe on the original review it has been left in tact.)
A couple of local vinyl-only releases, the first teams Portland's Systemwide with the recently deceased Bryn Jones, who was internationally known as Muslimgauze. (The title, conceived before he passed away, is not meant as a sick joke.) One side of the disc offers three Muslimgauze remixes of Systemwide tracks, including a couple from the "Sirius" CD, though they are unrecognizable as such. The longest of the three, "Nommos Descending" has the intense in-your-face Arabic-industrial rhythms that Muslimgauze is known for, and the other two tracks, while less harsh, sound more Muslimgauze than Systemwide. The flip side offers a pair of Systemwide pieces, dark experimental dub, the one more song-like and the other containing weirder effects and vocal processing.
Though it lacks any known names, Sound Secretion, also from Portland, offers a fitting companion to the other record. The music is just as good in a similar experimental vein, from the hip hop/dub mix (with some great snippets of sampled vocals) on the first side to the more laid-back dub on the flip. "In the Eye of the Dub" throws in some jazzy elements and bubbling electronics, while "Beat Trilogy" uses weird electronics and
deconstructed rhythms that mirror the decaying electronics on the last Muslimgauze track on "City of the Dead."
Both records exhibit a gritty underground texture that is ideal for vinyl, when these things age and gain a little bit of surface noise (which they will with the amount of playing they receive), they will sound just as good if not better.
review by Rolf Semprebon
This review originally appeared in the Seattle magazine The Rocket.
The following appeared in the &etc newsletter. (ed. note: it also includes a review of a none Muslimgauze recording but so as not to infringe on the original review it has been left in tact.)
From out of Portland, Oregon, BSI present two 12" vinyl dub treats. And why not from the Pacific Northwest, in this global world of musical influences. It was my interest in Muslimgauze which brought these to my attention, further showing how music bounces around the hidden corners of the first to fourth worlds.
Sound Secretion, who also produces Systemwide, presents two quite different sides of the rhythmic, echoed sound which is one form of dub. Side one features a more spacey, electro/techno style - there are synths and spooky noises together with some more usual elements. 'Sound secretion in the city' opens with a female voice speaking, she breaks down and echoes into a moving bass line, with groovy drum pattern and theremin like squeals over it all. After a brief collapse, the music returns with a bit more echo. A clicking clock supplies a rhythmtick to 'Frequency seduction' where a synth riff gradually builds to a smooth 'sitar' drenched slow groove, replete with some nice repeats and breaks. An uncertain beat, squeals and voice lead into more theremin in 'Beat trilogy' in which multi-layered, echoed weirdness reigns. On side two a more melodic, sweeter sound prevails: 'In the eye of dub' features a lovely sax over the rolling bass, percussion and spacey synth - and highly echoed, while a violin rides the rhythms of '4am dub'. 'Shifting dub' closes the disk with a slow groove, again with violin, whose sensuous appeal could extend well beyond its 3 minutes.
Systemwide take a different tack. 'Contrapositive' is a more traditional style and reflects the fact this is created by a group, with a more 'conservative' instrumentation. A bass line carries the other instruments: restrained percussion and a slightly distorted vocal about the city, toasted and echoed over the top. Synth squiggles and curls and production effects are selectively introduced. The second half is a gentle instrumental extension that carries the groove into some new places. 'Provisional dub' features a more reggae-ish organ riff and more echoed and phased production work, including vocal snippets, with a snakey rhythm.
Muslimgauze kicks in with three tracks on the second side. These are quite different to the Systemwide sound on this disk, and while it may reflect the material he was working on, rather suggests a strong Muslimgauze input to me: converting Systemwide into Muslimgauze rather than merely tweaking Systemwide. 'Smooth prophet' presents a dubby rhythm loop with descending riffs of synth notes over the top, an echoed vocal sample towards the ends, and some sonic waves over the surface. We move further into Muslimgauze with 'Nommos descending' where a signature short loop of fractured percussion and bells is used as a ground for noisy fragments, little warbles, breathy sounds to skate, with drop outs and rhythm breaks. The short 'Excerpt from by the West Bank' is another strongly rhythmic piece with warbles.
Fans of Muslimgauze will obviously gravitate towards the Systemwide disk as one of his last works, but both offer some tempting and enjoyable dub rhythms.
review by Jeremy Keens
This text originally appeared in &etc v1.3.
Reproduced by permission.
The following is a review from somewhere???
Systemwide opens this pair of gorgeously designed EPs with two dark and unforgiving pieces of dub tectonics. Contrapositive begins as a haunting and militant excursion into the hills, ravines and valleys of the mind during wartime. Admonishments to "Mash Up The City" and "Nice Up The Town" simultaneously recall the JA Soundsystem origins of the Systemwide sonic, and reach out to the guerrilla freedom fighters of now (this record is dedicated to the K.L.A.). A rolodub breakdown kills the vocal and plunges the whole track two miles down to an abyssal plain of depth charge kicks and beautifully creaking aqua-paranoia. Provisional (Dub) continues the life during wartime theme only a few snippets of lyric are left intact on this version, but their directness ("historical myths cultivate lies / causing one blood to flow now") remains. The dub here is thick with the sounds of battle; tank treads and gun-claps trade off with flanged and ricocheting snares and rimshots that disorient like mad and leave jaws hanging.
The B-side shows Bryn Jones in head down, deep concentration remix mode, busting heavyweight hip hop and dancehall flavors with the requisite sleigh bells and dumbek style he's so loved for. The Muslimgauze take on the classic Stalag rhythm of old (Smooth Prophet Here) is infectious and freaked, with a sinuous reggae bounce seldom heard in Bryn-land. The next track is classic "Gauze" driving, compulsive mid-east big-beat with thorny barbs of white noise ripping through your speakers in rhythmic counterpoint. The last track is warped and mutating hip-hop with majorly overdriven hand drum samples cutting in and out. If you can keep from doing the headnod/bodyrock to this, then you might not have much time left.
Sound Secretion's breakout release is a worthy and appropriate companion record to the one above - his highly evolved dub and break-beat mentality is refreshingly broad in range and deep in vision. Side A is the digital secretion. Sound Secretion in the City (of the Dead?) lets you know where the dread at the controls is coming from; funky-ass break-beat with a hard kick and street sounds to spare. Frequency Seduction uses a martial rhythm, clock ticks, a babbling brook and some Indian sounding strings to create a highly unique track at once dope and disarming. Beat Trilogy is an odyssey of drum, crunch, and whine that'll make beat jugglers buy this record in quadruple.
The B is a reverent bow to the dub forefathers. This is homage done right, not cloying or affected, but acknowledging the roots of the form while building on them with taste and poise. In the Eye of Dub brings tablas, smoke haze and a Laswellian baseline to soothe the scorched. 4 AM Dub blends violin worthy of a Hitchcock score with crowd sounds over an eerie bass rope to manifest an unsettlingly ambiguous vibe. The final track on the record is the achingly sad Shifting Dub, with delicate chimes, a reverb drenched beat, and near-symphonic swells creating a beautiful and desolate landscape of possibility.
reviewed by Ibrahim Ahmeti
The following appeared on Mark Weddle's CD & Live Show Reviews page.
Muslimgauze is Bryn Jones. Systemwide is Tim, Lohr, S-Dub, e.t. and Ezra.
"At the City of the Dead" is a ltd. edition 12" EP (500, pressed in the Czech Republic of all places) that pairs Portland, OR dub group Systemwide with the ever proficient Muslimgauze. Side one has 2 Systemwide tunes and side two has 3 re-mixes by Muslimgauze of tracks by Systemwide, the first 2 of which are from Systemwide's "Sirius" CD and the last an as yet unreleased track. "Contrapositive" and "Provisional" are two slabs of traditional, *live* heavy duty dub. In the mix: vocals, effects, live bass and drums, and tasty reverberated synth and organ lines, etc. Great stuff. Now for the re-mixes. "Smooth Prophet" seems more like Systemwide than Muslimgauze to me: a funky bass line and hi-hat accompanied by twinkly synth and brief interludes of vocals. There's a few cut-ups and effects sections, which are one of the trademarks of Bryn Jones. "Nommos.." is the exact opposite: an abrasive Muslimgauze track which seems to borrow only the background synth from the original track. Plenty of rough cuts, sudden jabs of distorted percussion and a distorted harmonica(?) in combination with an upbeat, repetitive beat and bass line. "excerpt.." is downright funky with a squelchy synth line over a steady beat. This one is also messed about with by jump starts and stops and interludes of percussion, etc. More great stuff, though I find the Muslimgauze tracks a bit arbitrary considering my discovery of Systemwide ... almost makes me wish I lived in Portland so I could see/hear these guys kick it live. The record comes in a sharp looking tan sleeve with a castle storming graphic. Get it if you still can ...
review by Mark Weddle
CD & Live Show Reviews
November 4, 2020