Rapoon / Pacific 231
POLAND ZOHARUM ZOHAR 228-2 CD (2021)
Here is a “compilation” of sorts, being as it is a reissue of the 2007 Palestine cd on the Old Europa Café imprint with three additional tracks bolted on. A tribute to “Bryn Jones and the oppressed populations of Palestine”. Bryn Jones was the founder of Muslimgauze, the massively prolific – even posthumously – samplist project from Manchester that dealt almost exclusively with source material from the middle east in order to produce a mutant dance music with a political edge supporting the Palestinian struggle supplied by his choice of track titles. Those responsible for this tribute are “…two titans of industrial and underground music…”: Pierre Jolivet (Pacific 231) and Robin Storey (Rapoon), joined on the first track, “Al-Quds Al-Sharif” by B2La3ck1, who is Brian Ladd of Blackhouse in duo with Pierre Jolivet.
The sampled tabla on “Al-Quds Al-Sharif” benefits from some tangled filters added which have a chewy or whistling quality like those on the Boss SP202 sampler from the 1990s. Plus, there’s the fizz of a snare drum buzzing in the next room wrapped over the entire mix as the samples endlessly repeat. There’s over twenty minutes of this, which given the unchanging nature of the material is quite a lot for me. There’s a very brief drum break of sorts around 17 mins to relieve the monotony. Lots of rhythmic hiss and endless filter presets cycling around and around. If the idea is to produce some kind of trance-state or mental derangement in the listener, well done boys, it’s working. Eventually the music simply stops with just a wisp of reverb and delay to signal its passing.
The start of the second piece, Rapoon’s “A Thousand Slogans of Peace” reminds me a bit of what Dhangsha is currently doing with his live electronics, although perhaps with a lot more dynamism and brutality. Bass stabs and minimal electronic percussion are accompanied by processed field recorded muezzin calls. The muezzin initially seems to be just slowed-down at an unchanging rate, but then pitch manipulation techniques are employed to an ever-increasing degree. Repetition is used with bloodyminded and unnecessary rigour on these first two tracks. What they gain by stressed emphasis on the one hand, they lose as the listener’s attention wanders. The percussion loop on “Al-Quds Al-Sharif” sounds like the engineer is cycling through four presets, which is possibly a deliberate strategy of disorientation, but has the unfortunate effect of sounding like someone cycling through four presets which spoils the experience slightly for me.
But now we come to the added tracks and things are getting a bit more psychotropic now. On Pacific231 & Rapoon’s collaboration, “Al-Misr”, a sample of a field recording of pipes intersects with percussion loops while seeming to develop some bass information for a bit before cutting into a much more laid-back vibe with overlaid pipes bolstered with delays. From here, a saz sample is pressed into action with a minimal backing of deep reverbed woodblocks. A second saz sample arrives and the whole pudding is thrust through a vintage Memory Man delay – or similar – shortly after percussion is added, and then some more pipes in a nicely mellow but still vaguely chaotic manner. I’m just beginning to drift and then the original pipe sample returns and we’re back in the room. The sample changes in a kind of jolting Akai S2000 kind of way; a bit of flange and that’s it. Very nice.
Next is Pacific 231’s “El-Arish” with its shakers and darbuka, this time with modulated voices overlaid. A pleasantly watery mix this one, with a fair amount of flange and modulation in the outboard arsenal. Jolivet is in no rush to develop this strategy and why should he? He has spaced the samples around to give a very pleasing hypnotic result.
The final piece is ”Panjshir Singh” from Pacific 231; at a smidge over six minutes, I was left wishing this was longer. Similar source material as ther other tracks but it sounds to me like the mixing board is being subtly used “dub-style” to create a fairly lively mix here. Some nice bubbly filter sweeps here and there too, that really emphasise the nice trebly, chewy sounds of fingers on drumskins. To me, it’s not unlike the Muslimgauze track “Libya” from 1996’s Return Of Black September. As the track fades out, a high pass filter is opened which gives an indication of an almost techno feel. If you’re expecting something akin to Bryn Jones’ output, you may or may not be excited by what you hear on this disc depending on how much of the Muslimgauze discography you have so far devoured, but if you’re just keen on minimal, repetitive middle eastern-based psychedelic music, this one’s definitely for you.