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The Rootsman meets Muslimgauze - Al Aqsa Intifada

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Artist: The Rootsman meets Muslimgauze

Album: Al Aqsa Intifada

Label: Third Eye

Review date: May. 13, 2004

After nearly 100 albums over 20 years, the late Bryn Jones has to be one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century. Because no label or collaborator could keep up with Jones’ massive Muslimgauze production, and because of his untimely death in 1999, a vast, but slowly depleting catalogue of unheard material exists, one that grows smaller with each posthumous release.

Al Aqsa Intifada is the third Muslimgauze collaboration with reggae alchemist the Rootsman. Inspired by the Palestinian uprising against Israeli violence, the title speaks for itself. The album is broken down into thirds – the first segment consists of the original Muslimgauze/Rootsman collaboration, while the second and third are individual versions by each artist.

The original collaboration of “Al Aqsa Intifada” opens with oud strings cleaved by explosive distorted bass, like mortar shells of funk. The sensual voice of a Palestinian female exhorts an uprising to the sweep of Middle Eastern strings. The tone, urgent and stirring, maintains anthemic ferocity throughout. The dub edit is largely the same, only steeped in reverb and delay, resulting in a hybrid mutant of dub and Middle Eastern music (not surprising given the personnel).

It is a treat to absorb each artists' slant to the edit via their remixes. The remix also helps distinguish what Muslimgauze and the Rootsman brought to the original material; beats supplied by the former, dub effects from the latter. While the Rootsman exercises restraint, Muslimgauze was a Tasmanian devil at the mixing board.

The Rootsman edits have a smoother flow, but are rife with intensity, driven by more danceable rhythms and more bass. Tension and release take turns as a stream of beats interact with dub echoes.

While impressive, the Rootsman’s mix is eclipsed by the more flamboyant and adventurous Muslimgauze versions, where out-and-out assault replace tension and release. For one thing, Jones has a habit of slamming the gain to preposterous levels so that the bass growls and beats lumber like a massive dinosaur, accentuated by his scatterbrained panning and sample use. These mixes hint at one Muslimgauze’s later fixations – dancehall reggae and hip hop. Somewhere between dub, industrial and the Middle East resides Muslimgauze, happy to dwell in the shadows of each of them.

By I Khider

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