Abyssinia Selasie

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Limited to 700 copies, digipak.

“Although Bryn Jones’ work as Muslimgauze certainly numbers dub within its influence, rarely is that influence treated as directly or centrally as it is on many of the tracks found on Abyssinia Selasie. A rarity among the material Jones left behind after his death in 1999, this release features unreleased material Jones had titled, unlike many of the tapes he had submitted but hadn’t gotten around to preparing for release.

The opening title track alone, with its steady bassline and dopplering, insistent beeps, is as close to an unadulterated dub track as Jones ever came, even as the separate coda “Benzedrine Wallah” starts cranking up the outbursts of percussion. Not every song on this trim, focused collection goes in that same direction, but even elements like “Arab”’s wobbling percussion and female vocals share a similar sensibility. Even the stark “Mind of a Suicide Bomber” is more coolly menacing than overtly hostile, although as always with Jones’ work and his positioning of that work it’s hard to know how seriously, or sympathetically, we should take him.

Unfortunately Jones isn’t around to ask, either to take to task or to praise, but he has left us with such a depth of material (and was so generally taciturn in life), that we are left with only that to evaluate. The last track here is titled “Mea Culpa,” and while it starts out as a fine example of the warmer, more head-nodding sound of Abyssinia Selasie before metamorphosing into a truly out-there echo chamber, after a brief break in the middle it surges back to life with the dubbiest bassline of the album, bathed in somehow welcoming static. Jones’ work as Muslimgauze remains as enigmatic and rewarding as ever.”