Staalplaat 1996. STCD10
Muslimgauze, aka Bryn Jones who died in 1999 was an intriguing artist. In life he released around 90 albums and countless singles, and since his death the number of releases has climbed to over 200. Muslimgauze was focused primarily on the Israel/Palestine conflict, but also to a lesser extent other conflicts in the region, although Jones himself was not a Muslim and never visited the region. He justified this by arguing that the moral issues involved had nothing to do with his own location, and that occupied regions shouldn’t be visited until they are free. He likened it to opposing apartheid without visiting South Africa.
Most of his music is instrumental, and so the politics enter only through the titles, the art work, and sometimes samples of news broadcasts. With such a vast back catalogue, it’s difficult to generalise, but the stuff I have has a very middle eastern feel thanks to the samples and percussion he uses. In all cases it sounds like no-one else.
This double CD from 1996 is unusual in that it is a remix project. Usually Jones didn’t let anyone near his work, but here his source material is reworked by a variety of artists, mostly obscure people from the world of underground electronica, but a few who are better know, like Pan Sonic, Zion Train, People Like Us and :zoviet*france: . Several of the tracks are remixed by Jones himself. The two discs are quite different; the second, Occupied Frequencies is by far the best with it’s relatively ambient, freeform experimentation. The first disc, Occupied Beats is as the title suggests more dance orientated, and rather generic as a result. Standouts for me are all the Bryn Jones remixes and :zoviet*france:.
This is the original CD issue from 1996. It was re-issued in 2004 but the material was the same and I doubt it was remastered. I’ve left the rip as two separate discs because they are intended to be listened to that way.
It’s difficult to recommend specific Muslimgauze releases. I’ve heard only a small fraction of them, and have tended to buy based on availability more than anything else because they’re always so limited and difficult to get hold of. Right now, as has always been the case, almost all of his back catalogue is unavailable, and when re-issues appear, they usually sell out on pre-order. What is available is distributed by Staalplaat.
Beggars Banquet 1996. HERTZ 1 – 6
Main were formed from the ashes of drone-rock outfit Loop by Robert Hampson and Scott Dowson. They took the ideas Loop used far further than Loop did themselves, basing the music around drones devoid of rhythm. Theyused manipulated sounds, usually so manipulated that it was impossible to tell where they came from. This was a journey though, and their earlier work still contained elements of recognisable musical structures.
Hz appeared as a set of 6 EPs released monthly in 1996 and is for me their greatest achievement. It’s guitar based and while drones are used extensively, it’s still “music”. In places there are even bass riffs. As a whole it’s intensely atmospheric with a powerful industrial feel.
This is the original 6 CD version, ripped as though it was one long CD. There have been a few re-issues over the years as a double CD – I have no idea whether the sound was different on those. There’s something to be said for splitting the 6 CDs up – they work well as stand-alone pieces. That would be easy to do with MP3Tag if you felt inclined.
Hampson has reformed Main and has a new album about to be released which you can pre-order here. Obviously I haven’t heard it, but I have much of Hampson’s output and he’s rarely less than interesting. It will be good.
Some Bizzare 1985. SBZCD1
Some Bizarre’s second compilation from 1985 is an important musical document, containing as it does seminal tracks from a number of bands, most of which I guess you’d call industrial, who went on to have significant careers. It’s also really strong musically; there really isn’t a duff track here, and it’s quite a CV for whoever their A&R guy was.
The cover is suitably disturbing, although the vinyl issue, which I also have but can’t be bothered to rip is much more interesting:
It includes a number of weird inserts, including a folder printed with “Today’s Government’s Plans Towards Utopia” which contains a blank piece of paper and another sheet which is probably an early attempt at cover art because it includes the album’s original title.
Most of the tracks here are exclusives (Coil for example) , others impossibly rare (The The), so it’s worth having even if you’re only interested in one or two bands.
Here’s a tracklisting (with thanks to Discogs)
Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – The Only Good Christian Is A Dead Christian 3:27
Cabaret Voltaire – Product Patrol 4:19
Test Dept. – Total Nervous Phenomonom 3:41
Marc Almond – Love Amongst The Ruined 6:36
Psychic T.V. – Twisted 7:57
The The – Flesh And Bones 4:00
Coil – The Wheel 2:42
Yello – The Roxy Cut 4:30
Virginia Astley – Waiting To Fall 3:27
Einstürzende Neubauten – Wardrobe 2:40
Mille Plateaux 1996. MP CD 22
This is the best of three of compilation albums I have which were issued in tribute to the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze after his suicide in 1995. All of them are dark electronica, this one being issued by the Mille Plateaux label. I’m not entirely convinced that the link between Deleuze’s work and the music here really works for the listener, but since the label was named after one of Deleuze’s books, whether I can see the connection or not, it’s certainly there. The artists represented are very much from the intellectual end of electronica (and elsewhere). Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud for example writes regularly for The Wire in which most of the artists figured prominently throughout the 1990s. To what extent they’re directly influenced by Deleuze isn’t clear,
That this was an important project for Mille Plateux is obvious. There are no out-takes, poor quality remixes or tracks lifted out of context from albums. Everything here is exclusive and hangs together remarkably well, despite the contrast between the full on aural assault of, say, Steel and the more ambient character of much of the rest. Looking down the tracklist it’s a veritable who’s who of everyone who was worth listening to in the world of electronica in the 1990s. If you’re into this kind of stuff, it’s essential listening.
This is a double CD, but the break between the discs is of no significance, so I’ve ripped it as though it was a single, very long disc.
1. Gilles Deleuze – Gilles Deleuze
2. Happy Deterritorializations – Wehowsky/Wollscheid
3. On the Edge of a Grain of Sand- :Zoviet*France:
4. Bon Voyage – Alec Empire
5. Gigantic Tautological Machinery – Cristian Vogel
6. Indirection/Comtinuum – Christophe Charles
7. Abstract Miniatures in Memoriam Gilles Deleuze – Atom Heart
8. Heller – Gas
9. Intro-Spektiv – Chris & Cosey
10. Wunschmaschinenpark- J.Burger
11. Death Is the Begining – Steel
12. Can’t Be Still- Blue Byte
13. Starjammer – Trans Am
14. Intermodal – Rome
15. As In – Jim O’Rourke
16. You Are Here 0.9 B – Oval
17. 1001 – Mouse on Mars
18. Vital One – Ian Pooley
19 Patent – Bleed
20. Qeria for Gilles Deleuze – Tobias Hazan
21. Without End – Scanner
22. Invisual Ocean – DJ Spooky
23. Gradation d’Humor-Fetisch Park
24. Traobeik – Gilles Deleuze
25. And Line – Kerosene
26. Garator – El Turco Loco
27. Layered Layers- Beequeen
Still not able to do vinyl rips, so here’s something a little different. This is the soundtrack from DVD 4 of the huge (and insanely expensive) Coil boxed set Colour, Sound, Oblivion recorded live in Moscow in 2001.
The boxed set was put together by the late Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson in the period after the death of John Balance, almost as if he knew his own end was not so far away. It compiles on 16 DVDs all their live performances for which reasonable quality audio and video exist.
I’m rarely at a loss for words to describe music, but I’ve always struggled to explain why I like Coil so much. Others have no such problem, but what they write is usually enough to put anyone off. I guess it comes down to the emotional engagement which is at the heart of all great music, and while their recorded output is at times unlistenable, there’s always a rawness to it which is compelling. Here though is a blog which deals with the problem of writing about Coil unusually well.
In life, Coil were never very good at making their music available, and in death it’s got a lot worse. Their web operation, Threshold House still exists but these days there’s very little to buy. Of note is The Remote Viewer which seems to be the only CD now available, and the download of Worship The Glitch.