Muslimgauze, Sigur Rós, Skullflower, Kinski, Throbbing Gristle, and Craig Taborn
Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., June 4, 2004
He didn't live to see this, but Alms for Iraq (Soleilmoon) captures the typical response of Bryn Jones, aka Muslimgauze, to current world events. Jones, an English non-Muslim, died in 1998 of a rare blood disease after a prolific 15-year run of moody, instrumental postindustrial electronica infused with Arabic-flavored samples and textures. The packaging of this archival release, an 8-inch-tall foldout with provocative imagery from Iraq and Palestine, mirrors past controversies Vote Hezbollah, Hebron Massacre, and The Rape of Palestine. Staticky noise loops reveal the influence Jones had on IDM electro-heads like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, but Jones' music was much more stable and organically evocative, a glimpse into the sunbaked land of brutality, oppression, and daily struggle... From a calmer perch, Sigur Rós re-emerges with Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do (Geffen), an EP produced for the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation. This low-key piece is ambient enough to make Ágaetis Byrjum sound like Spinal Tap... Drone-rock heroes Skullflower come back from the dead with Exquisite Fucking Boredom (tUMULt), a total fucking clinic on the all-encompassing power of repetition that conjures the fuzzed-out brain-candy of contemporaries Spacemen 3... Taking a similar cue is Seattle's Kinski, who detour from their big bang ways with Don't Climb on and Take the Holy Water (Strange Attractors Audio House), an improvised set of beatless, ethereal juju... The earliest and harshest of the industrial underground was Throbbing Gristle, as evidenced by The Taste of TG best-of (Mute). That's why it's surprising to hear Chris & Cosey, Carl Craig, and Motor on the remix disc, Mutant Throbbing Gristle (Mute), sculpting TG into rigid beat science akin to Psychic TV's later work... NYC jazz pianist/keyboardist/programmer Craig Taborn makes some Junk Magic by tastefully and smoothly integrating challenging electronics with textural jazz wizardry in a way few ever have, even among Thirsty Ear's inspired Blue Series.