Gun Aramaic

release date: 8/1/96

Soleilmoon Recordings are pleased to announce the first new US full-length Muslimgauze CD since the January 1995 release of Salaam Alekum, Bastard (Soleilmoon SOL 25 CD).

Eskhatos magazine had this to say about Muslimgauze:
"Muslimgauze began approximately 11 years ago as one man's obsession. Driven to present opposition to the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and occupation of Gaza, Muslimgauze began recording albums of rhythmic dissent. Muslimgauze is punctuated by layers of texture and ambience floating in and out in a hypnotic collision with Arabic voices and a persistent spiralling beat. After every significant political event in the Middle East, Muslimgauze responds with an unrelenting counterspin to the ceaseless anti-Arab propaganda."

Aaron Johnston wrote in Carpe Noctum:
"He is not a Muslim, an Arab or even a descendant of the Middle East. In fact he has never even been to Palestine, and has no ambition of ever going at all. He doesn't even maintain any contact with Arabs in and around his home town of Manchester, England. Through all of this, Bryn Jones, the brain behind the industrial-tinged ethno ambient music of Muslimgauze, has fuelled more than his share of Arabic fire in the last half of the decade. Musically, Muslimgauze is quite difficult to nail down for the most part. Sometimes it is very thick with rapid percussion and Middle Eastern themes. Other times, it is stripped down and almost ambient. Then come the dense industrial ended releases that throw you off even further."

Press release from Soleilmoon.

The following appeared in Flagpole Magazine Online.

Muslimgauze has managed to create ambient noise with middle-eastern influences and really make it work. Muslimgauze's new album is the work of Bryn Jones (who has been creating his unique style of music for over a decade). Chants and spells swim under sitar and stripped-down rhythms as suffocating winds collapse the landscape. The songs seem like the soundtrack to a horrible desert nightmare, not unlike recent works by Lab Report and Final. The eight songs range in length from two to 17 minutes, incorporating indecipherable samples and faintly industrial elements to create trance-like organic compositions. Apparently, this lad from Manchester, England, has absolutely no Arabic ties at all, but has managed to successfully layer hypnotic Arabic voices upon spiralling ambience. The tracks have a tendency to all sound alike, one flowing rather seamlessly into the next, but never to the point of redundancy. This is a truly amazing album; file under nightmare soundtracks.

review by Eric Palmerlee
Flagpole Magazine Online

The following appeared on The Voight Kampff Test.

When I got this album I thought it was kind of boring; decent but not worth my time. For some reason I started listening to it again about a year later, and man was I wrong. I love this stuff, and it's safe to say that I've never heard anything like it.

On this outing, Bryn Jones successfully holds together these incredibly prophetic and ominous collages of sound with rhythmic, trance inducing bass and percussion that somehow sounds incredibly Middle Eastern. Imagine, if you will, music that instantly conjures images of the windswept Saharan desert: dust devils whirl by, Arabs argue just out of clear earshot, sand blinds your eyes, all in preparation for something so terrible nothing can be spoken of it. Yes, I guess it's true that almost all the tracks are basically the same, but for some reason it never gets tiresome (that was my initial complaint). I suggest running out and picking this up today if you want to know about Muslimgauze. 7/10

The Voight Kampff Test
The Voight Kampff Test is also an electro/industrial/experimental show on WPRB in Princeton, NJ, 103.3 FM.

The following appeared in Alternative Music Press.

Arab activist/extremist Bryn Jones - neither an Arab nor living in the Middle East, by the way - continues to produce album after album after album of sonic dissent. Isn't he up to five or six a year now? He has explored Middle Eastern sounds in the context of everything from acoustic trance music to techno, and here he courts ethno-ambient influences. The eight tracks on this album pretty much recycle one murky, processed bass theme which invokes an ominous feeling of impending danger. While it sounds as if he is merely being redundant, Jones maintains a continual level of interest by using different tempos and via the different elements which swirl around this continually recurring motif, including both disembodied and cohesive techno pulses and hand percussion, voice fragments, effects (such as the sound of wind or horses running), and various drones. At times, the theme disappears to let the other elements mingle and create different aural combinations, thereby adding further diversity. Perhaps Muslimgauze fans and fanatics will not find this as fresh as those new to the artist's work, but Gun Aramaic offers many intriguing moments in spite of its cyclical approach.

review by Bryan Reesman
Alternative Music Press

The following appears in All Music Guide.

"Saladin Mercy" begins Gun on a familiar touch, perhaps almost too familiar; while a certain consistency to Muslimgauze's work is no surprise, Bryn Jones generally varies things from album to album just enough to create distinct, different listening experiences for each release. Still, "Saladin" feels like something which easily could have been on his previous Soleilmoon/Staalplaat release Maroon, with its blend of the drones from earlier pieces and the more recent tweaking and heavy variety in the rhythms throughout the song. The following track, the first "8 am, Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad," sets things more to rights, with a combination of sharp pulses, echoing roars, and what sounds like a domestic squabble between a couple caught on tape - a characteristically strange combination which again works out quite nicely in the end. A little more than most Muslimgauze releases, Gun is very environmental in terms of its composition; the reliance on conversational snippets throughout almost turns the album into a soundtrack for a non-existent film. As is often the case for Muslimgauze, the most fascinating elements of Gun often are the simplest, such as the persistent, slow-rising beat in the first "Opiate and Mullah," or the shift from near silence to an elegant, slightly creepy keyboard arrangement about thirteen minutes into "Oil Prophets (pt. 1, 2, 3)." Gun wraps things up on a very moody note with the dark rumblings concluding "Oil Prophets (pt. 4, 5)" and the quite brief but deep, moody drones of the second "Opiate and Mullah," making for a slightly unexpected end to a fair album.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

The following appears on Amazon.com.

A more subtle side of Muslimgauze,

When I got this album I thought it was kind of boring; decent but not worth my time. For some reason I started listening to it again about a year later, and man was I wrong. I love this stuff, and it's safe to say that I've never heard anything quite like it.

Bryn Jones successfully holds together these incredibly prophetic and ominous collages of sound with rhythmic, trance inducing bass and percussion that somehow sounds incredibly Middle Eastern. Imagine, if you will, music that instantly conjures images of the windswept Saharan desert: dust devils whirl by, Arabs argue just out of clear earshot, sand blinds your eyes, all in preparation for something so terrible nothing can be spoken of it. It completely lacks the hard-hitting edge of more recent Muslimgauze, going for a more atmospheric (but not ambient) feel, and yes, I guess it's true that almost all the tracks are basically the same, but for some reason it never gets tiresome if you let yourself get sucked in.

"abraxxas" (Brooklyn, NY, United States, October 12, 2000)
Amazon.com

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

Similar to Mullah Said in terms of sound and melody, but it's more cold and brooding. The whole record feels like one hour-long piece, which is the case with a lot of Muslimgauze records, but somehow it doesn't work as successfully here. I'm especially not a fan of the Oil Prophets piece, whose all parts combined amount to almost 30 minutes, and it kind of wears off its welcome after the first 10-15 minutes. So, Gun Aramaic as a whole could definitely benefit from some editing.

Nonetheless, it's a decent slab of the ambient-techno portion of Bryn's catalog. The overwhelming amount of field recordings, found sounds and Arab spoken word pieces just manages to keep this album from becoming an exercise in tedium and successfully sets in an anxious, dark and militant atmosphere. And of course only a Muslimgauze record could have a song title like "8 am, Tel Aviv, Islamic Jihad".

Still, this feels more like a blueprint for Mullah Said, where Bryn applies the same formula and uses similar melodies, but achieves a much more successful and mesmerising result.

reviewed by muslimgauze_reviews
Rate Your Music
(January 25, 2018)

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

Muslimgauze's catalog is a seemingly endless trove of provocative, atmospheric material that never ceases to challenge the listener, while enveloping them in exotic sounds and transporting them to distant lands. I've found his music to be the perfect background music for many daily tasks, whether serious work, or unwinding late at night. Sometimes "background music" carries a negative connotation, but I mean this as a compliment. It's not so quiet that it requires headphones or focused attention (like most ambient), yet it's non-intrusive, except for some of his more experimental/dub offerings which are quite abrasive. But the tribal ambient material is sublime.

Sometimes it takes years to track down a release, after all there are hundreds of them, and some are out of print. So it was that, being a fan of Muslimgauze for many years, I never heard Gun Aramaic until now (only part two). Indeed it is very similar to Mullah Said and other works of that era, but it's no surprise that Bryn Jones recycled a lot of material, constantly reworking it into new mixes. That's how we still find new releases 20 years after his untimely death.

Honestly it's difficult to rate these albums relative to each other anymore. Can I say this is better or worse than Mullah Said, can I really compare it to Maroon, without hearing both side-by-side? Not so much. Some of his albums I love, yet haven't heard in years. There are basically two tiers. Top tier: 4.0-5.0 stars for his ambient material is stuff I could listen to all day long, every day. Anything below that is the second tier, and mostly forgettable.

According to my calculations, of what I have heard so far, that leaves 34 Muslimgauze albums I would place on the top tier, and 29 second-tier albums that I didn't really care for. Only a few were so bad that I found them appalling. Of course these are always subject to change, as my tastes change.

Still, Gun Aramaic really is different than most of the output since the 80s, with it's darker, more subdued atmosphere. I wouldn't call any Muslimgauze album "happy," but most of them have a certain energizing, kinetic feeling to them. This isn't like that. Definitely on the more minimal end of the spectrum, even if it possesses a similar tribal/ethnic flair. I'm not going to delve too far into the messages being conveyed here, and honestly, it's difficult anyway, since the vocal samples tend to be in Arabic, and cover relatively obscure figures and events. What remains is the artwork, the track and album titles, and any notes included by Jones. For the most part, that is enough.

Check it out if you're a fan of his other atmospheric albums.

reviewed by historic_bruno
Rate Your Music (November 12, 2018)

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

Fairly similar but not quite as good as Return of Black September.

Manages to mix the whole sitar + techno beats with the eastern percussion pretty well, and to be absolutely fair to it does manage to create a fairly dense and interesting atmosphere but isn't entirely captivating throughout. The track Oil Prophets (Pt. 4, 5) is definitely the closest he comes to the quality level of Black September here, creating the same sprawling dynamic feeling that most of the tracks on that record nail down really well, but overall the record isn't quite as noteworthy as some of his other works in this vein.

That being said, definitely not a bad record, and stands out quite a lot more than some of the other sitar ambient techno stuff he did. there are other things in this vein I'd recommend more but this one sure isn't a bad shout. Check it out sometime, but it's not essential.

reviewed by StoneInFocus
Rate Your Music

see also Arab Quarter, Return Of Black September, Re-mixs, Gun Aramaic & Occupied Territories, Gun Aramaic & Gun Aramaic Part 2 & Gun Aramaic, Gun Aramaic Part 2 & Azzazin

horizontal rule

Press Release/Reviews Index Release Information Back Muslimgauze

November 4, 2020