Hajj

The following appears in All Music Guide.

This is Muslimgauze's fourth album in 2 years, yet the quality, freshness and originality of music and ideas are perfectly retained and of the usual impeccably high standard. Bryn Jones use of essentially drum and percussion based Eastern-influenced music (embellished with carefully sampled natural and electronic sounds) to communicate socio-political statements is extremely effective and far more acceptable and persuasive than the usual "ram it down their throats lads!" tack of so many others. This guy and his music are subtle, interesting, enjoyable and commendably so.

There is a touch more restraint in this offering than previous albums. The rhythms are slightly less throbbing and the use of drums slightly less forceful. That is not to say that the overall impact or emotiveness is lessened though; if anything, it is heightened by suggestion, careful coloration and a richer palette of tonal effects.

Side 1 has 3 contrasting tracks, each outstanding in its own right. "Charnel" has a hypnotic/insistent/striding drum rhythm overlaying intriguing sampled natural (and electronic?) sounds. It's spellbinding! "Under Black Light" features a tribal beat with a very complex cross-patterning of drums and percussion plus occasional throaty "vocal" interjections, whilst Somnambulists is an almost minimalist piece of percussive and exotic/erotic delight. The 20 minute tour-de-force "Xajza Of Martyrdome" sprawls magnificently across the whole of side 2. Drums, a vast array of percussion and cymbals throb and ring out against wordless, haunting choral effects that rise, swell and occasionally all but disappear into the mix to take on an almost subliminal role. The effect of this enthralling (and, lets face it beautiful) piece of music is absolutely devastating upon the listener.

I voted 'Blinded Horses' album of the year 1985 and in a review of Muslimgauze's previous album 'Flajelata', I stated that it would "without doubt feature high in my top ten lists for 1986". I hereby make a similar claim about 'Hajj'. 39 or so minutes of excellence which I recommend without hesitation. Thank you Bryn for helping to make 1986 another good year.

review by Peter Harrison
This text originally appeared in Audion magazine (issue # 3).

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

Pretty solid dark ambient record. the first 2 tracks are good but Somnambulists is this record's highlight. Repetitive drum beating and eerie chanting. Sounds exactly the way i want my tribal/ritual ambient to sound like.

In a way sounds a lot like the music from the temples in The Legend of Zelda: Original Sound Track [Ocarina of Time], Somnambulists especially bearing a similarity to the original version of the Fire Temple ambiance.

The last track is alright but too long and uneventful for its own good. Nonetheless I'll probably be digging around a lot more in the guy's early discography.

reviewed by robbing
Rate Your Music
(April 30, 2016)

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Hajj (orig)  Hajj (VOD)

October 15, 2020