‘Narcotic’ first came out in 1997, in the years before his death from a rare blood disease. It falls deeply into the latter phase of his oeuvre with richly atmospheric dubbing and some of his most lip-smacking, syncopated rhythms executed in a way that came to define his best work, and would exert a huge influence over the likes of Vatican Shadow. Seriously, the mastering job on this one is HD compared with previous releases and makes for an ideal entry point for anyone who’s been wondering where to start with Muslimgauze’s sprawling catalogue.
Plunging us into his soundworld with the intoxicating mix of field recordings and super wide, spatialized drums in ‘Medina Flight’, the album proves why it’s often hailed among Muslimgauze’s best with a slow burning fever dream sequence of events between the ambient arabesque, ‘Ramadan’ and scenes of slithering drums and oozing acidic synths punctuated with ricocheting gunfire in ‘Effendi’, while ‘Nazzareen’ feels as though we’ve slipped off down some ginnel from Cheetham Hill into a private backroom session in Ramallah. The opiated wooze of ‘Gulf Between Us’ and his beautiful duet for 303 and santur (?) ‘Saddams Children’ hold up among his finest ambient vignettes, priming for the album’s three-part title tune and again, some of his most enchanting sampledelia brought to life as we’ve never quite heard it before.