Souk Bou Saada


2012 release. Another Muslimgauze discovery in Staalplaat's reissue series, with eight rare tracks from the mind of Bryn Jones. Hefty slabs of beefy beats are seasoned with spicy South Asian melodies while mouth numbingly hot bass lines are smothered in distortion chutney; Souk Bou Saada was broiled in Machester's finest tandoor and is now served by Staalplaat. If you love East Indian flavors with a neo-bhangra beat, this disc will not disappoint, equally at home on the dancefloors of Bradistan, UK or Mumbai, India. On a buffet, this sizzling dish ought to be placed somewhere between Silknoose and Lahore & Marseille, but with some unique takes on bhangra beats. The disc opens with the fading echoes of breaks before a woman's voice croons an old Punjabi song for several seconds; enter track two with its infectious stomp-beats, slices of sizzling distortion, masala violin with turmeric dulcimer and ghee-laden hand percussion bits. Muslimgauze fans will need to dance off this caloric intake. Tracks two through five can school even the likes of MIA on what grime-laden ethno-dance beats are really about, best for the more intensely choreographed moments of a Bollywood dance routine. Hovering throughout most of Souk Bou Saada, like dense smoke from a barbecue flame, is a layer of distortion as if from a not-quite-tuned-in radio. When the distortion crackles in time to the beats, the realization hits that this was just another texture the late Bryn Jones used, the way a sculptor works with sheet metal and a blowtorch to add a new dimension to abstract works. By track five, the album style veers into ambient-drone-radio-play territory as bass lines roll through agitated voices in North African dialects amidst urban environs, evocative of material from Veiled Sisters. Track six brings back the beat, this time in the same dusty North African villages while flute melodies, string instruments and gauzified slabs of distortion recall parts of Jebel Tariq. Track six returns to East Indian flavors with a variance from Hussein Mahmood Jeeb Tehar Gas, only with restrained beats culled from hand percussion but with menacing bass lines and distant Punjabi vocals. The final track book-ends the album on a South Asian bent with celebratory beats and ululating vocals with harmonium bits and lots of distortion, almost to the point of obscuring the music. Though Souk Bou Saada overall is decidedly East-Indian, it also acts as a bridge between the above-mentioned albums, great for Muslimgauze completists who want to hear all versions of previously-released works along with something new and essential to those who are slaves to the rhythm.