On January 14th, 1999 the prolific career of multi-instrumentalist Bryn Jones of Muslimgauze ended shockingly with his death from pneumonia due to a rare fungal disease. He was 38. This episode honors him as its the 20th year since this tragedy. Born and raised in Manchester, England, one can argue (or have grand revisions in your dreams) that he’s a Mancunian iconoclast considering his recording career juxtaposed with the indie jangle sounds of the Smiths versus the crossover appeal of New Order’s electronic music whose origins stemmed from the dark break up of Joy Division. Also with Factory Records Tony Wilson’s affinity for dance beats and psychedelia (Happy Mondays, Madchester, Stone Roses, Charlatans UK), triggering a media battle with another hometown icon and its antithesis Morrissey, Bryn Jones’ warped collection of dub, ambient and tribal influences probably fit more with the burgeoning industrial scene but even this was too limiting as the standards that led to its growing popularity was too confining for him. While Morrissey challenged his northern neighbors as an animal rights activist before being criticized for his histrionic stances (supporting Brexit, emphasizing the Falafel mayor of London), the entire career of Muslimgauze was about the response to modern imperialism, with his most vocal the Israeli treatment against Palestinians.
So perhaps fitting Muslimgauze’s sound into the industrial scene may not be a good comparison. He’s probably more related to artists discussed in the book England’s Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground which include first wave industrial artists. That said, many of the associated second wave of Industrial also split off into different sects. Many of them that veered into experimentation, that met with being associated with record labels like Staalpaat, Soleilmoon, Extreme etc, were at the most treated with cult like status. While its difficult to determine where he stood amongst the list, Bryn Jones was no exception. Rest in peace. Rest in power.
The following is the playlist for Chill #50’s tribute to Muslimgauze with other artists that have an apparent connection and/or influence. In addition this episode closes out with brighter (poppier) new tracks and and then ends with another classic ambient chill remix from almost 20 years ago.