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    If, Bwana – I, Angelica

    April 7th, 2013

    If, Bwana - I, Angelica

    Comma lovers take note! I, Angelica is a vault-clearing double CD set released in 2001 by Pogus label main man, Al Margolis, and his ongoing free music project, If, Bwana. (Yep, there’s a comma in the artist’s name and the title. Is that enough punctuation for you?) The tracks on these two coasters span a whole decade, from 1992 through 2001, and send the attentive listener not on a space odyssey, but a sound one. Titled Nick Nack, disc one offers up six tracks of prime weird behavior courtesy of Al himself, who piled up multiple layers of such instruments as Arp 2600, Moog Rogue, computer, tapes, manipulations, guitar and steel cello.

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    If, Bwana – Clara Nostra

    April 2nd, 2013

    If, Bwana - Clara Nostra

    Clara Nostra is comprised of a single one-hour track “for 106,476 clarinets”. When I first read that, I busted up…laughing out loud. But, yep, it’s true. Mr. Al Margolis, leader of Pogus, has overdubbed four different tracks of clarinet and then bounced each of them back and forth like crazy and forever (speeding up some, slowing down others) until the end result really is 106,476 of the dang things quilting and billowing you a most unlighted and dense static drone of “I’m supposed to wake up and go to work in one hour” proportions. Clara Nostra is a most excellent 360 degree bib for you all-the-time-drooling, deep-freeze-dwelling patrons of the (big, slow f)arts. Way recommended.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21019-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 1 Total Time: 62:54 Country: United States Released: 1999 More: Bandcamp, Discogs, Official, Pogus, Soundcloud

    Text ©2003 Arcane Candy

    If, Bwana – Tripping India

    March 30th, 2013

    If, Bwana - Tripping India

    Recorded in 1994 but not released until 1997, Tripping India is the fourth CD by Pogus label honcho Al Margolis’ improvisational music group If, Bwana, which boasts an ever-rotating lineup of players with each release. The album contains three long tracks that that take you on a journey through a full hour of uncompromising sound inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The first, “3 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad” is played by three pianists, who start off with some pleasurable deep rumbles, then engage in a stop / start, melodic / dissonant, tinkle ‘n’ pound fest as electronic tapes chatter and churn in the background. “PR-DR” is a somewhat more subdued affair, as two percussionists proceed from quiet and spare frottage and light pinging on their instruments to loud, metallic rattling and schwinging—all manipulated by Al, and completely coated with maximum reverb turned up to 14. Closing the album with an epic, dense sound collage that lasts 26 minutes, the title track is constructed with layers of manipulated percussionists whose rhythms are blended in with field recordings from India, including percussion and singing from religious festivals, street sounds with shouting, etc. The beats were intentionally mis-matched, which results in a crashing, crushing cacophony. With Tripping India, chalk up another fascinating release chock-full of challenging music from If, Bwana.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21013-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 3 Total Time: 61:14 Country: United States Released: 1997 More: Bandcamp, Discogs, Official, Pogus, Soundcloud

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy

    If, Bwana – Breathing

    March 29th, 2013

    If, Bwana - Breathing

    Way back yonder in 1996, experimental music entity If, Bwana unleashed its third-ever CD, Breathing, which followed hot on the heels of a slew of cassettes over the previous decade and the CDs R.ISMV.1 and 33 Birds Went. After taking a big, deep breath, this album exhales three huge gusts of after-dinner minimal music that’s sure to lull you to sleep quicker than a food coma–and that’s a good thing. The title track opens up the program with a fantastic mass of smokey, acoustic drones courtesy of cello, dijeridu, oboe, tapes and effects. Second up, the nearly half-hour long “R.Ism V.2PF” adds low, rumbling piano and electronics into the mix. Although the music as a whole flows along in a similar vein as the first track, the playing of each instrument is less continuous, with pleasant little melodic tinkles audible during sparse passages. “Barump Poe” closes up shop with wind, organ and strings added to the cello and tapes, along with keening, vague vocals off in the distance. Eventually, it all coalesces into a dense web of cacophony before fading away. I highly recommend Breathing for anyone who is into minimal, acoustic instrument-led atmospheres.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21010-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 3 Total Time: 70:10 Country: United States Released: 1996 More: Bandcamp, Discogs, Official, Pogus, Soundcloud

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy

    If, Bwana – 33 Birds Went

    March 27th, 2013

    If, Bwana - 33 Birds Went

    Since 1984, If, Bwana has existed as an ongoing, freeform music project of Al Margolis, he of Pogus label fame. Following numerous cassette albums in the ’80s and early ’90s, 33 Birds Went emerged in 1995 as the second-ever CD released by this outfit that features different guests each time out. Don’t be fooled by the bright rubber ducky on the cover, because the music on this compact disc will grab you by the shirt collar, dunk your whole head into a vat of Whisk, then throw you down the laundry chute for an all-night journey through a vast nocturnal netherworld. The first track, “Mal Air,” is a live group improvisation that billows out some prime, dark, avant-garde chamber classical flotation via bass clarinet, percussion and synth accented with gorgeous female singing. “Ellensbirds” finds cut-up bird samples and the same singing lady battling it out in a titanic reverb tank. The final three tracks, “Pi = Sinbad,” “Debtetc” and “Flute Thang,” continue the madness with sparse, super dreary and sometimes woozy sound worlds delivered delivered straight to your headspace via bass clarinet, cello, oboe, percussion, sax and snyth. It’s all so strange…yet somehow meditative.

    Label: Pogus Catalog Number: P21007-2 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 5 Total Time: 58:16 Country: United States Released: 1995 More: Bandcamp, Discogs, Official, Pogus, Soundcloud

    Text ©2013 Arcane Candy