Sandtrafikar

The following appears in All Music Guide.

A gentler release than many in the limited edition subscription series, Sandtrafikar fits into the vein of such works as Zul'm and Drugsherpa, with a low-key propulsion balanced against generally downbeat, dark arrangements, all succeeding in conveying a sense of beauty and mystery mixed with a strange, slight dread. The opening title tracks complement each other well, and share similar elements such as a recurrent conversational sample and moody keyboards. The first has a more loping feel in terms of percussion, while the second is driven by a quick electronic beat; both use the bells which have appeared on so many other Muslimgauze recordings over the years. After the minute-long snippet, "God and I," the first "Baku Oil Field" ratchets up the brooding feeling even more: soft machine-like growls and wheezes rise from deep in the mix, with only an occasional bell and brief echoing samples of percussion and string instruments, calling to mind more familiar Muslimgauze works  until a growth in general intensity at the end. It's quite wonderful, and the similarly named track which follows continues that flow, with percussion added throughout. Following another brief track, Sandtrafikar concludes with "Remix by the Rootsman," which is indeed the U.K. dub/dance figure tackling the title song. He comes up with a rough, shuffling bass drone mix that fits in quite well, although he's not simply trying to ape Muslimgauze. It makes for a fine conclusion to one of Bryn Jones' best all-around efforts.

review by Ned Raggett
All Music Guide

The following appeared in Chainlink D.L.K..

The fourth installment in the series of Staalplaat re-editions of older Muslimgauze recordings, is an 800 copies limited edition of a 1997 production entitled "Sandtrafikar". Its seven tracks further explore the realms of murkier percussive suites and introduce the spoken language element (middle eastern languages) as a narration that accompanies part of the record. Another recurring element in this album (and in many others) are the bells. Electronics moves from the back to the front in several parts, and ranges from simple noise floor to predominant rhythmical part, while maintaining a pretty minimal approach. In fact, "Sandtrafikar" is a nice effort in combining ethnic ambience and flavors with electronic layers and patterns as it sneaks from percussive parts with udu, darbuka and the like to electronic suites, like the second track, where real (and saturated) percussions are only used as embellishments on top of a pulsing minimal electro-beat.

review by Marc Urselli-Schaerer
Chainlink D.L.K. (May 18, 2004)

The following appeared on Discogs.

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.

reviewed by AllyKarate
(Discogs March 3, 2016)

see also Sandtrafikar & Zuriff Moussa & Fatah Guerrilla, Narcotic, Sandtrafikar, Vampire Of Tehran & Zuriff Moussa

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Sandtrafikar  Sandtrafikar (re-issue)

May 31, 2019