Suns of Arqa

Suns of Arqa Re-Mixes Muslimgauze

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In a way, it may seem strange that Michael Wadada (who records under the name Suns of Arqa) and the late Bryn Jones (who recorded under the name Muslimgauze) never got together on their own -- both British artists have demonstrated a deep interest in the intersection between ancient Middle Eastern and modern electronic sounds. But Jones was something of a recluse, and it took the intercession of sound sculptor Satoshi Morita to bring them together in the mid-'90s for a sort of collaboration. It turned out to be a collaboration by mail; Wadada sent tapes to Jones, who gave them the Muslimgauze treatment: isolating eerie snippets of vocal, or carving out percussion parts, or looping an instrumental passage or two, and layering the original sound sources with additional percussion or simply letting the resulting tape loops spin out with minimal additional treatment until their original sonic characteristics dissolved into something ambient and abstract. (What this means, of course, is that this disc is somewhat misleadingly titled -- it's not actually remixes of Muslimgauze material by Suns of Arqa, but rather just the opposite.) At its best, this album reveals everything that made Jones a genius. What he does with a very small amount of musical material on the funky and slightly creepy "Waz Whirling" is brilliant, and "Hey Jagunath" is surprisingly light and sweet while still being recognizably a product of Jones' unique musical mind. There are some more tedious moments as well (this 74-minute program feels pretty much unedited), but overall this disc is a very welcome addition to the posthumous Bryn Jones catalog as well as a unique window on the work of Suns of Arqa. Very highly recommended.