If, Bwana


Procession of Shadows

1 “O The Dead Man” 12:50
Text – Jay Noya, from his poem “O The Dead Man O The Dead Man”
Adam Klein, tenor
Al Margolis, electric guitar, sampled flute
2 R.IsmV.1G2P 31:15
Detta Andreana, piano
Larry Olson, electric guitar
Al Margolis, piano
3 Shadows 15:06
Mitzi Melville, vocals
Al Margolis, accordion, sampled flute, tape Total time: 59:10

ISRC Fi-3AB-05-00019-00021

An Aureobel Production
Artistic Direction Petri Kuljuntausta
© 1990, 1992, 1994 Margolis / 2005 Aureobel
Produced by 2005 Aureobel

Album includes an essay by Al Margolis:
"Procession of Shadows"
+ Flash presentation and a picture

Sounding like an archaic echo, If, Bwana could be the title of a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby vehicle that never got made. A little investigation reveals it as the oddly worded cover for Al Margolis, who is perhaps better known as a tireless activist in the 1980s American cassette underground through his cassette label Sound Of Pig Music in the 1980s, and, later, as the co-founder of experimental music label Pogus Productions. If, Bwana has been active since 1984, making music that has swung between fairly spontaneous studio constructions and more process-oriented composition.

In 1984, a high proportion of the world's most adventurous and downright bizarre music was found on tapes circulating around the International Cassette Network, an anarchic web of home-tapers inspired by the post-punk DIY ethos and easy access to now-affordable professional-calibre home studio gear. As proprietor of Sound Of Pig Music, Margolis released an incredible 301 cassettes between 1984 and 1991. Among the multitude of sound explorers and industrialists in SOP's catalogue were such future celebrities as multi-instrumentalist Amy Denio, French über-eccentric Costes and Japanese noise giant Merzbow, as well as Jim O’Rourke, John Hudak, and Conrad Schnitzler.

In 1989, he teamed up with composers Dave Prescott and Gen Ken Montgomery to form the non-cassette label Pogus. Two years later, after a handful of releases - new recordings by Engish experimental outfit Morphogenesis and steel cello player Robert Rutman, previously unreleased material by AMM and Swedish avant garde composer Rune Lindblad - Prescott and Montgomery quit, leaving the label in Margolis's hands. After managing to fund a few Pogus discs on his own – including releases by California noise artists Big City Orchestra and avant jazz trio Trigger, with Fred Lonberg-Holm - Margolis experienced a career change that improved the label's finances. He took a job at New World Records and eventually rose to A&R Director before leaving to work as a freelance label manager for several small experimental labels.

Currently Margolis is label manager for Deep Listening, XI Records, and Mutable Music, playing bass guitar in the long-lasting, legendary punk/post-punk band The Styrenes, and continuing his work with If, Bwana as well as the dance/country/funky/jazz improvisational stylings of the Orchestre de Fou. He has recorded and/or performed with Pauline Oliveros, Ione, Joan Osborne, Adam Bohman, Ellen Christi, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jane Scarpantoni, Ulrich Krieger, David First, Dave Prescott, Hal McGee, Sarah Weaver, and Amoeba (Raft) Boy, among others.

His most recent release on Pogus of his works is a collaboration with the composer/electronic musician Tom Hamilton and the writer/poet Mike Silverton – a double cd of text ad electronics, described by one critic as "the strangest book on tape you'll ever hear." In 2004 there was a release of a cd of his work on the Ants label out of Italy and cdrs on the Hvexas and XVP labels, as well as a limited edition 7” on the Klanggalerie label of Austria. In 2005 the Absurd label out of Greece will release an If, Bwana cd, as well as one on Pogus.

Procession of Shadows

Working on the project and going through some older material reminded of why much of it has remained unreleased. These 3 works included here had been at some point scheduled to be put out on my Pogus label – but newer work of mine eventually shoved them aside. So it is very nice to have the opportunity to make these pieces available.

I worked at a book publisher for a year around 1991 and one of my co-workers, Jay Noya, became a very good friend of mine. He is a writer and poet and “O The Dead Man” (1992) is one of a number of texts of his I set to music. So far the only other piece of ours available is “Railway Station Fire” on the I, Angelica cd. There are certain pieces of mine that are created because there is a specific problem I want to deal with and some of the works come about because of opportunity – to work with a writer or a certain musician or instrument. “O The Dead Man” was because of having access to a writer who was interested in having his work set to music. Adam Klein (who thankfully replace my vocals with his) is an opera singer who in the past has worked with Robert Ashley.

“R.IsmV.1G2P” (1990) is part of a set of 4 works all based on the same original 8 track material. “R.IsmV.1” and “R.IsmV.2” are tape pieces – the same material in different mixes. “R.IsmV. 1G2P” is the tape piece plus guitar and 2 pianos and “R.IsmV.2PF” is the second version of the tape piece with piano and sampled flute. To date only “R.IsmV.1” has been available – released on the Anckarstrom series that CM Von Hausswolff of Sweden did in the early 1990s. It is very good to have the chance to get this version out and hopefully will also down the line make available the other 2 recordings as well.

“Shadows” (1994) is a piece that I did when someone had actually left their accordion in my house for awhile and I wanted to work with it. The underlying tape part is of a piano recording being played backwards.

- Al Margolis, 2005

© 2005 Aureobel