Muslimgauze - Turn On Arabic American Radio 2xLP
The relationship between Bryn Jones's music as Muslimgauze and the track/album titles he would provide (sometimes right on the tapes he would send in for release, but often determined later, sometimes even giving two different pieces months apart the same title, accidentally or not) has always been a little mysterious. Jones himself can no longer be asked, and as you continue to investigate the swathes of material he provided, you hit sources like the DAT or DATs that make up the contents of the new double-LP Turn On Arab American Radio. Nine tracks, the first LP/four tracks titled "Turn On Arab American Radio," and the other LP/five tracks labeled only "Arab American Radio." None of them sound particularly radio-esque, although given the simultaneous vastness and ornate focus of Jones's Muslimgauze work that gap between name and sound is far from atypical. Instead, here the de rigeur percussion loops that underpin this particular set of tracks, while occasionally clipping into the fierce distortion that Jones either loved to use or couldn't get away from, steer away from both the more consistent application of that distortion as well as the Middle Eastern and Asian influences he often used. It'd be a stretch to call anything here basic boom-bap production but they come closer to it than a lot of Muslimgauze production. And while those loops are, as always prominent, they're not actually the focus; settling into steady vamps as structures for Jones to pursue an extended and often more gentle exploration of the other sample sources he has here. There are stringed instruments, the sound of water, but most prominently or strikingly the human voice. Nothing is in English but tone and the occasional word ("familia", "passport") still provide guides. There are ululations, snatches of melody; but most often speech, dialogue, often tense and harried sounding. Is this what Jones was thinking of or referring to with his Arab American Radio? As with so many other questions about Muslimgauze, we'll never know the answer to that one. (Most pertinently in this case we might wonder who appears here, and what the context of these recordings is. But Jones never provided that with his submissions.) Here, even though those inexorable loops pound on, indefatigable, that emphasis on some of the people Jones chooses lends a measured gentleness to much of Turn On Arab American Radio, at least within the context of his body of work.