Observe With Sadiq Bey

release date: now available (January 18, 1999)

Another year, another Muslimgauze. This release is not part of the limited edition series. This time an unlimited one. Music-wise more up tempo, distorted beat material, with dashes of trip hop like beats. Muslimgauze find their way round in current dance music trends, but he's not willing to settle down, give in or sell out. This is particularly strong material, this being the main reason for the unlimited edition.

Press release from Staalplaat.

The following appeared on the Islamaphonia mailing list.

Observe with Sadiq Bey is old school Muslimgauze. It opens up with the first three tracks predominantly authentic sounding with quite a bit of rich dialogue and very subtle effects accents. One of my favorites on this one is Bagel of Poison (track 5), very cool piece. This is a great pairing of the more percussive and naturalistic drum with a subtle dub bass line, not overdone and not overpowering the percussion. The whole CD is much more raw than I've heard in a long while. Less production trickery and obsession with heavy phat dub bass and more of an emphasis on just simple middle-eastern drumming. Very refreshing after a long courtship with some very different (but also highly enjoyable!) styles. Some parts of this sound more like Uzi and Unites States of Islam. The artwork on this really compliments it as well, a rich desert sandy colored cover with camel and Bedouin. The internal photographs are just as arid and gritty while remaining true to the feel of the music overall.

The tracks Daughter of the Crescent Moon and Muslim of America stand out as well, Daughter being much more head bobbing, and Muslim of America seeming almost playful and simplistic. From 1-10 I'm thinking a 7.5 sits well with me.

review by Ares Solis
Islamaphonia mailing list

The following appeared on Mark Weddle's CD & Live Show Reviews page.

Overall impression: very good. 

I don't think I'll ever get sick of new Muslimgauze ... it's an addiction now. "Observe With Sadiq Bey" is an unlimited release from Staalplaat, the 6th Muslimgauze release so far this year with many more to come. The material here is somewhat subdued, minimal and hypnotic (meaning repetitious in a good way). All of these tracks are mid-tempo beat driven pieces and most are little more than a percussion loop, a fat dub-y bass line, an ethnic string loop and a hodgepodge of quiet Middle Eastern dialogue samples. Other elements that pop up here and there include occasional swells of distortion, slightly overdriven bass, static and water. A few tracks that stand out from the rest: "Abou Hamza.." is a little more upbeat and lo-if than the rest, "Daughter.." slowly falls apart in the latter half of the track and "Muslim of America" is a funky old school rap beat-box track with a Muslimgauze twist. There are two versions of "Djerba", the latter having less dialogue and being more overdriven and mastered at a lower volume. "Observe.." is solid through the entire 72+ minutes, a good mix of short and long tracks none of which require skipping. Kudos to Staalplaat for filling the CD up and releasing it as an unlimited edition. As usual for Muslimgauze, the artwork is superb: the front and back covers, the insert and beneath the CD tray all contain intriguing color and b/w photos of past desert scenes, as well as a b/w picture of Sadiq Bey. Jones' message is loud and clear on this release, thanks to the 1998 quote from PLO leader Yasser Arafat inside: "The Israeli occupiers have made all the possible efforts that could be made by any colonialist to change the face of Palestine and to deny the existence of the Palestinians". You may not agree with Bryn Jones' politics, but you cannot deny the passion and focus of his cause and legacy ...

review by Mark Weddle
CD & Live Show Reviews

The following appeared on AmbiEntrance.

The politically pounding sounds of Muslimgauze live on. Yet another post-mortem release which reinforces Bryn Jones incredibly prolific output, Observe with Sadiq Bey covers familiar territories, but does so with the typically spirited panache which makes his (over 90!) recordings worthwhile every time.

Many assorted vocal snippets, from anguished exclamations to persuasive Middle Eastern politispeak, are expertly woven into the straightforwardly ethnic rhythms of State of Palestine. Darker, and infused with various whispers, In Turkish Quarters receives extra punch from a throbbing bass-line. More whispered words, sinuous strings (actually, the same guitar riff as heard in Thief of Sand from the Azure Deux collection) and multiple bass-lines are peppered with scattershot drumming and exotic cymbalism in Delicate Prey Desend.

Fluctuating volume and distortion levels affect Murmur you support the Arabs, a slow guitar tune backed by a steady drumming. Bagel of Poison is topped with a distortedly dubby bass and spirited metallic clanging, as well as cut-and-paste Arabic language bits. Featuring extremely muffled percussive effects and a distant shimmer, Bitter years is a very quiet three-minute piece, to be followed by..

50 Bitter years; a longer, louder version of the same in which everything is clearer, including meandering strings and more conversation (with a few English words even, concerning "freedom fighters"). Submerged beneath Abou Hamza on cassette tape's stop-and-go percussion barrage, another dub-flavored bass steadfastly churns. The sultry Middle Eastern-style drum-and-bass of Djerba (11:22) is injected with male and female ethnic speech patterns (and even some war cry whooping ala stereotypical American Indians) and less often, odd electronic waves.

The starker percussion of Daughter of the Crescent Moon is backed by a buzzing haze and dub rhythms, somewhat disintegrating toward its end, revealing a familiar string riff. Strutting briefly down the dancier side, the beats of Muslim of America (1:21) are funkier and the air is sliced by distortions. Softer and about three minutes shorter, Djerba reappears in an altered, buzzier form. Bass-lines thread between steadily pattering beats and electro-grunge. The music fades prematurely, leaving behind cryptic whispers.

Other than a slightly more-than-usual usage of spoken samples perhaps, I can't see that Observe with Sadiq Bey is so much different from many other Muslimgauze releases. But the determined sense of spirit (regardless of listeners' own political leanings) is so pronounced as to make each release a fresh entity unto itself, not to mention the transportive Middle Eastern styles and rhythms. This 8.6 observation is no exception to Jones' exceptional sound journeys.

review by David J. Opdyke
This review originally appeared on AmbiEntrance July 25, 1999

The following appears on Amazon.com.

Psychedelic Arabian styled hip-hop/d&b.

I have bought quite a few Muslimgauze releases and this is one of my favorite. The sound is truly exquisite Muslimgauze, the album flows like a warm desert wind with waves of Arabic influences. Here Muslimgauze stretches between ambient grooves, hip-hop attitude and drum & bass beats to bring together one of his most fluid albums to date,that is NOT a special limited release, so if you have been thinking about purchasing a album from Muslimgauze this would be the one I would recommend.

Benjamin Harris (Tacoma, WA, United States, September 25, 2000 )
Amazon.com

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

This is the one full of really deep bass. Very little digital distortion which is surprising, considering it's one of the later Muslimgauze albums. Repetitive but very hypnotic.

I played this once in '02 when a plasterer was at work in my house and he asked me to turn it off as it made him feel sick due to the subsonic low bass lines! Bryn Jones would have loved to hear that! Come to think of it, have you realised that ALL Muslimgauze bass is really, really deep? You never hear high notes. Gloomy night time stuff.
Yet another great album of theirs - and a brilliant front cover too. Muslimgauze always left the design and artwork of their sleeves to their record label - goodness knows where they found all those unusual photos. You could search all day on the internet and find none of them.

reviewed by Dobermensch
Rate Your Music (April 23, 2009)

The following appeared on Discogs.

This is EXACTLY what Muslimgauze sounds like and what I envision the project to be. This release really shows how Bryn Jones was so unique and one of a kind with his sound. No filler tracks. Upbeat trance with repetitive tribal beats that never tire. The perfectly timed and expertly layered vox samples only enhance the experience making this a highlight album of his. "Delicate Prey Descend" is a great example of how effective the vox conversation works. Every track is Phenomenally mesmerizing and one of the better albums in his discography.

reviewed by Jackthetab
(Discogs July 8, 2017)

The following appeared in Rate Your Music.

This is my first physical Muslimgauze copy in my collection (CD), which is pretty cool, and I'm definitely going to buy some more of his CDs, but on the first listen, Observe With Sadiq Bey was kind of underwhelming.

There are some cool percussion patterns going on, and of course the trademark Muslimgauze sub bass sounds deep/rich as fuck on a good stereo, which is always a plus. However, I don't feel like this album has enough ideas to justify its 73-minute duration - most of it sounds, to be frank, pretty sameish. In many cases, repetition works in his favor, such as Abu Nidal or Kabul, both of which I enjoy. It works in his favor in Uzbekistani Bizzare and Souk, too, even if that album is arguably harder to stomach with its distortion galore.

It's kind of stupid to complain about repetition when it comes to Bryn Jones, generally. But the thing is, Abu Nidal and Kabul were both around 40 minutes in length, and the hour-long UBaS mostly offered repetition within one track, but the tracks in general were pretty diverse.

Observe With Sadiq Bey, however, comes across as a 70-minute collection of variations on one theme, and while Vote Hezbollah  more or less follows the same formula, OWSB doesn't offer the textural depth that the aforementioned record has. The beats here are more plain and one-dimensional, and he kind of toned down on the melodic snippets, too.

That's not to say that this album is absolute crap - there are certainly worse entry points in his discography,  it still has some great hypnotising beats, and after all, I've listened to it only once yet, so it's almost certain that I'll start liking it more with repeated listens. But for now, I think I would give it 2.5 stars, and a bonus 0.5 for the beautiful graphic design of the CD copy. It has a rather powerful quote from Yasser Arafat under the CD tray, too.

P.S. In case you've been wondering who the fuck Sadiq Bey is - turns out, he was the first photographer to ever take photos of holy places in the Arab world, like Mecca and Medina during the Hajj, making his historical documents as far back as the 1860s. Damn, it's a surprise to me that they actually had cameras around that time, and the photos are not even potato quality as you would expect!

Update: forget my initial review, I actually enjoy this record much more now. Sure, it's super repetitive and minimal, but it's very sonically pleasant and groovy. I often spin the CD from start to finish.

reviewed by muslimgauze_reviews
Rate Your Music (Jan 30, 2018)

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