If, Bwana

I, Angelica

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If If, Bwana appeared to hide a collective under their moniker in previous releases, I, Angelica is the work of Al Margolis from beginning to end. The two-CD set presents pieces created between 1992 and 2001. Disc two is comprised of four 15-minute pieces. Each features a specific set of sounds to attain elongated textures. "Fantastic Literature 3" has string sounds altered through granular synthesis in order to create a disquieting drone not unlike some of Koji Asano's works. "Walking Der Dog" superimposes a field recording of a stroll with man's best friend with improvisations on bowed metal structures. These pieces tend to be more drone-based than what is found on disc one, more narrative-based and closer to academic electro-acoustic music. "Furry" is an excellent piece, varied in its sound palette and puzzling in its associations. Margolis brings back his synthesizers (an Arp 2600 and a Moog Rogue) for "Satind Farms Far Piano," one of the set's highlights. This electronic piece, although long (20 minutes), combines surprising moments with a touch of retro-charm -- but this is by no means Tangerine Dream. "The Railway Station Fire" has Margolis adding steel cello, sampled voices, and treated sounds from his guitar pickups to a text by Jay Noya sung-spoken in a Thomas Buckner/Robert Ashley style by Adam Klein. The composer explores more paths than usual in I, Angelica. It lacks some of the evocative power found in earlier albums like Tripping India, but it remains a fascinating listening experience.

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