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Rex Xhu Ping - If,Bwana (Chain D.L.K.)::

If,Bwana - Rex Xhu PingAl Margolis is internationally known for his indefatigable activity as a label owner (the historical tape-label Sound of Pig and, of course, Pogus itself) and manager (Deep Listening, XI Records and Mutable Music), but his 20-year old musical alias If, Bwana has gained a cult status as well. "Rex Xhu Ping" presents six compositions featuring Margolis at tapes, electronics and clarinet, with guest musicians Laura Biagi (vocals), Dan (speaker, tapes) and Detta Andreana (tapes, bowed cymbals) and the Orchestre de Fou, an ensemble playing everything from organ to a mysteryous "bikelophone". The six tracks are even radically different from each other, but this doesn't mean the cd sounds incoherent or randomly assorted, which is, I guess, a very positive quality for a composer/performer. The doom-laden "Natraj" opens the album with a looped bass note and screeching electronics, but the sullen atmosphere is soon washed away by "Frog Field", a mix of ecstatic xylophone loops and field recordings, easily the best piece of the disc. "Tattoed Love Muffins" features male/female rants (in English and Italian) over disjointed electroacoustic improvisation, while "Oy vey, Angie", performed by the above mentioned Orchestre, is a dark and beautiful droning piece, another highlight of the work. The last two tracks, "Cicada # 5: Version Bohman" and "Quaderni", experiment on manipulated vocals disintegrating "normal" speech, and would be a suitable soundtrack for some play of Beckett's. As a whole, "Rex Xhu Ping" is a fascinating and almost constantly sombre work, and a successful bridge between historical minimalism and concrete music, and 80's/90's industrial experimentation. - Eugenio Maggi

Through his amazing detachment and synthetic focus fused with a maniacal analysis and placement of every single sonic detail, once again Al Margolis has found a way to tell us something worthy of "Magna cum Laude" appreciation, such is the uneradicable beauty of his freakish conglomerates of musical literature edging the boiling waters of acousmatic autism.
"Natraj" and the alluring "Frog field" are deviated specimens of hunchbacked minimalism, "Bwana style"; instead, "Tattooed love muffins" sees the scarce light of mutilated speech in a crescendo of creative processing and piercing
frequencies - yet, it still sounds like a static block of constantly changing coloured auras. "Cicada #5" is an engrossing performance of Adam Bohman's talking tapes accompanied by a dark underground electronic background, while "Quaderni" is a tape/voice piece exploring more oneiric realms, even if it has a degree of "psychedelic" temperature in its anxious oscillations. But my overall favourite track is "Oy Vey, Angie", where a small group of loonies - "Orchestra D'Fou" - starts from scratch in slowly taking your cerebrum away with a delicious ode to aural mucilage or - if you
prefer - a meditation on the contortion of a blind creature's fantasy stimulated by nine entities use their improvising sagaciousness while locked in a tanked aquarium. - Massimo, Touching Extremes

With gluesticked scraps from an old copy of Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware gracing the cover, here's another record from one of the most criminally underrated champions of modern avant composition working today, Al Margolis (once more with a rotating cast of thousands – including deific pop singer Joan Osborne, whose hit single "What If God Was One Of Us" will be rattling around your short-term memory like a game of Mousetrap after you read this), whose Pogus imprint is a logical evolution from his home-taping days with his label Sound of Pig. The xylophone loops and current events recordings of "Frog Field" are a welcome ding-dong-ditch rejoinder to the thudding cut off so suddenly on the opening "Natraj", and the nine-piece Orchestra d’Fou on "Oy vey, Angie" plays everything from tuning forks to accordion to cells and trombone, subsequently de/constructed by later treatments to become a stealthy, slightly metallic drone hovering over the proceedings like those triangular USAF fighter craft you've been hearing so much about. "Cicada #5: Version Bohman" finds Margolis and Dan & Detta Andreana re-interpreting the "talking tapes" of Morphogenesis' Adam Bohman. Thrums and drones build behind manipulations of Bohman’s purred everyday banalities, which are vaguely reminiscent of the old 1990s bit where David Letterman gave audience members Late Night's predictions for the next hip catch-phrases of the year (e.g. "I’m a sweet little cupcake... BAKED BY THE DEVIL!" or "They pelted us with rocks and garbage!"). Finally, "Quaderni" features Margolis on tapes and processing and Laura Biagi on Italian whispers – now just imagine all the effort it takes to work with tape in these times of instant digital gratification. You think you’re bad? Take that unspooled tape you see in the gutter beside the guy selling oranges on your commute home and make a collage by splicing it together by hand. That’s bad.– DC, Paristransatlantic

New album from Al Margolis, who decided this time to distinguish his solo work from collaborative ones. First two tracks are recorded by him solely, and these are my favourites: out-of-body and contemplative soundscapes. Al uses tapes, samples and electronic treatment, creating mysterious atmosphere and preparing the listener to his unusual radioplay. In the further tracks there are really some other musicians, known from previous If, Bwana recordings. They are reading texts against the improvisational electroacoustic background. Even if the meaning of wordbook is not always familiar, it's overrided by the depressive surrounding of the longest and, may I suppose, central part "Oy vey, Angie". As the liner notes says, it was recorded live and then completely re-worked in studio. Here we can find a lot of acoustic instruments: accordion, guitar, cello, organ, trombone and even tuning forks - all of them are drifting around each other, creating dense but stirring flow, just like jazz session slowed down and condemned to remain still. Little by little, the piece goes dimensionally and dynamically close to drone-ambient art of fashion. Next two pieces are combining the atmosphere of the two previous ones. Consolidated by impressive. - IEM Webzine

Past Feature Article: If, Bwana / Al Margolis featured in UK's Wire Magazine
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