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IF, BWANA - Red One

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Pogus Productions 21068-2
Release Year: 2013
Note: the "still to discover" avantgardish minimalist AL MARGOLIS aka IF, BWANA presents 6 tracks with different approaches and used instrumental or vocal sounds from various musicians: NATE WOOLEY (trumpet), ELLEN BAND (voice), MONIQUE BUZZARTE (trombone), LESLIE ROSS (bassoon), VERONIKA VITAZKOVA & LISA B. KELLEY (flute & voice) => dense, multi-layered pieces with almost surrealistic quality! - comes with hand-stenciled mini-poster cover
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €14.00

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"Please note: This release is packaged in hand stenciled 11 x 17 card type stock paper, folded, inserted into re-sealable plastic sleeves. There is no jewel case, tray card etc. There is a bar code.

After the last If, Bwana (Al Margolis) release on Pogus the large-scale double cd E (and Sometimes Why), this brand new If, Bwana recording is a little more intimate. This release consists of six smaller works for one or at most two instruments with the instruments all being multi-tracked for a denser, deeper sound.

Red One features performances by stalwart experimental/avant musician/composers such as Nate Wooley, trumpet, on Toys for Al (with Al Margolis on toy trumpet); Ellen Bands vocals on Ellen, Banned; trombonist Monique Buzzart on Xylo 2; bassoonist Leslie Ross on It is Bassoon; Lisa B Kelley, voice and Veronika Vitazkova, flute on Lisa Verabbit; and Al Margolis, toy trumpet on Toys for Nate.

To quote from Massimo Riccis Touching Extreme review of E (and Sometimes Why) - and an equally apt description here: enriching with a distinct human component Al Margolis academically improper compositional conceptions. The ensuing music is intelligently awkward and typically difficult to categorize, barring the creation of a Bwana label: rich in disruptions yet engrossingly (and economically) minimalist at times, comprising twisted details that, in a general context of rationalism, increase the amount of question marks each and every time the discs are spun.

This disc adds another chapter to the thirty-year journey of If, Bwana.

If, Bwana was born on New Year's Eve 1984, making music that has swung between fairly spontaneous studio constructions and more process-oriented composition. A recent review of Margolis's work says: "Let it be declared that Al Margolis/If, Bwana is some sort of evil genius working with raw materials which are never adapted to a genre or a context, because they create one in that very moment. Those sources are radically altered up to an utterly unrecognizable state, anarchic manifestations moving in compact determination." (Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes).
Al Margolis has been an activist in the 1980s American cassette underground through his cassette label Sound of Pig Music; was
co-founder of experimental music label Pogus Productions, which he continues to run. Active under the name If, Bwana since 1984, making music that has swung between fairly spontaneous studio constructions and more process-oriented composition."


"And finally there is label boss Al Margolis with a new release as If, Bwana, his moniker since the mid 80s. His 'Red One' looks very much like some tape release he could have done in the 80s, with paint images sprayed on paper and a rather 80s design, but the music is all new. In each of the six pieces he works with sound material which he received from others, and all that has to do with 'air'. Nate Wooley plays trumpet, Margolis himself toy-trumpet (both in the first piece), Ellan Band uses her voice (second), Monique Buzzarte trombone (third), Leslie Ross (bassoon), Lisa B Kelley (voice) and Veronika Vitazkova on flute (fifth) and Margolis again on toy trumpet in the sixth piece. Margolis keeps his If, Bwana name for when it comes to using recordings for acoustic instruments and reworking them into lengthy pieces of drone like sound scapes. Taking the working method from Phill Niblock he cuts the sounds right before they start and right after they end, and then starts to layer them on the computer. He pitches some up, some down, and in some tracks in the musical program he cuts out parts, so have a start/stop feel, like some instruments only play part of the time, and others are in a more continuous mode. Thus clever modern classical music is made of a highly atmospheric chain. It's a technique If, Bwana has been using for years now, and he mastered it quite well. Not as controlled as Niblock himself does this, but the music is more playful - for instance in the two pieces that use voice, especially 'Lisa Verabbit' connects to the world of improvisation/free forms of classical music. It's different, playful, but perhaps not my most favorite of this disc. I'd rather settle 'Toys For Al' or 'It Is Bassoon', which it's controlled sustaining sounds and sounds dropping in and out in very gentle way. Another fine release with a nice, strange visual esthetic. Not the next new move, but a further investigation into what we already know." [FdW/Vital Weekly]