(2005) Rex Xhu Ping

Al Margolis/If, Bwana

... read moreRex Xhu Ping, Al Margolis' 2005 release on the experimental Pogus label, is a collection of six compositions for tape or for tape and live performers, though it's difficult to sort them strictly as one or the other, since the electronics and acoustic sounds are blended together so integrally...

01:06′:00″ 6 Songs

1
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Natraj
9:11
2
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Frog Field
12:12
3
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Tatooed Love Muffins
11:06
4
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Oy Vey, Angie
13:01
5
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Cicada #5: Version Bohman
10:12
6
Al Margolis/If, Bwana
Quaderni
10:18
Released 06 December 2005, ℗ Pogus

Review

Rex Xhu Ping, Al Margolis' 2005 release on the experimental Pogus label, is a collection of six compositions for tape or for tape and live performers, though it's difficult to sort them strictly as one or the other, since the electronics and acoustic sounds are blended together so integrally. Margolis and his cohort of versatile musicians -- collectively known as If Bwana -- are involved in most aspects of the production, so it's reasonable to suppose that some of the samples in the tapes are outtakes from the group's improvisations. Since Margolis has thoroughly manipulated his raw materials to seem electronically generated anyway, as in the hypnotic Natraj and the serene Frog Field, the pinpointing of original sources is moot. These trance-like opening tracks are mild and easy to absorb, but pieces that leave much stronger impressions are the suggestively recited Tattooed Love Muffins, featuring vocalizations by Laura Biagi and Dan Andreana, the grubby mix of Adam Bohman's "talking tapes" in Cicada #5: Version Bohman, and the creepy Quaderni, where Biagi's voice croaks and crackles over mind-numbing chimes and drones. But the darkly cosmic Oy vey, Angie, played with concentrated power by the ad hoc Orchestra D'Fou, is the most texturally interesting, richly hued, and electrically charged offering on the disc; Margolis appears to have discovered a suitable palette -- accordion, tuning forks, organ, trombones, guitar, cello, bikelophone, and synthesizers -- to merge with his walls of processed sound. Fans of hard-edged electronica and abstract soundscapes may feel that the right balance of instrumental and canned effects is reached here, and that the odd combinations are utterly compelling in depth and complexity. Because most of the album has been engineered by the composer, the rough-edged sound quality is probably intended to avoid sounding too pretty or rarefied. However, Oy vey, Angie was mixed by Russell Frehling, and is more polished and has clearer separation of inner parts.