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CD Review: E (and Sometimes Why) 

click to enlarge If, Bwana with/and/by Trio Scordatura, E (and Sometimes Why), 2012, Pogus Productions.
  • If, Bwana with/and/by Trio Scordatura, E (and Sometimes Why), 2012, Pogus Productions.

We last covered Al Margolis's nom de noise If, Bwana on this page with a review of 2011's captivating Assemble.Age!. Since then, the always-active, Chester-based experimentalist has been his usual busy self, releasing another If, Bwana title (31, on the GD Stereo label), as well as a big stack of recordings by other adventurous artists on his own Pogus Productions, the home of this offering. E (and Sometimes Why) is a double CD of electroacoustic music that pairs Margolis with the Dutch vocal/microtonal ensemble Trio Scordatura, which includes Elisabeth Smart on viola d'amore (a six- or seven-stringed Baroque-era viola), Bob Gilmore on keyboard and laptop, and Alfrun Schmidt on vocals.

Why the confusing "with/and/by" attribution? Perhaps it's best explained as a case of the creations engulfing the creators: Some of the pieces here were composed for Trio Scordatura by Margolis; some of them feature Margolis manipulating the trio's own compositions; one of them sees Margolis performing on keyboard alongside the trio; and one of them finds Trio Scordatura supplying sounds for "The Tempest, Fuggit" (great title or what?), a wonderfully unsettling, 20-minute performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest read by Michael Peters (of Albany band Poem Rocket) and Lisa Barnard Kelly (of Kingston's Deep Listening Institute). "Diapson, maybe," at 25 minutes the most extended of the set's uniformly extended tracks, focuses on the searching drones of trombonist Monique Buzzarté. A consistently startling landscape of chafing strings and weird electronics, E (and Sometimes Why) is a feast for both the ears and the brain.

Speaking of...

  • Peter Aaron reviews the new album from If, Bwana with/and/by Trio Scordatura.


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