WTM #1098: If, Bwana and Whorelovsky

wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3 [exclusively internet at this point]
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

7 June 2010 // 16.30-18.30

“All I need is a mirror for the rest of my life. / My first five years I lived in chicken coups with not enough bacon. / My mother showed her witch face in the night and told stories of blue beards.”
• Peter Orlovsky

“In keeping with the environmental conscience/consciousness of the times all of these pieces are recycled and/or scavenged and either have shown up in some other form as some other form or were mostly definitely intended to.”
• Liner notes, “Breathing,” If, Bwana

Photo: Author reading from BEER MYSTIC at legendary Tin Pan Alley with the Bass Boys [Dave Mandl & Al Margolis], 1988

If Bwana Wanna Radio Slave > B/art + If, Bwana [Radio Slaves / Pogus]
How the turntables2 > Michael Faux Scott
Nurse’s Song > Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky
The Heroic Chiseling Phase > Idea Fire Company [Big Mag #2 / De Player]
Issue > If, Bwana + Lisa Barnard [An Innocent, Abroad / Pogus]
Good Fuck With Denise  > Peter Orlovsky
Dress Me Down > If, Bwana [Radio Slaves / Pogus]
Nurse’s Song Naropa version > Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky
how the turntables 3 > Michael Faux Scott
Frog Field > If, Bwana [Rex Xhu Ping / Pogus]
The Pataphysical Tape Club > Felix Kubin [Big Mag #2 / De Player]
Country Vocal WTM Story Intro > Black Sifichi vs b/art
Burn The Mall > Oil Experts

“Being cut and cut again causes extreme pain, so do not be afraid when the white pebbles are being counted, do not lie do not fear the Lord of Death. Since you are a mental body you cannot die even if you are killed and cut up. You are really the natural form of emptiness, so there is no need to fear.”
• Tibetan Book of the Dead, quoted in liner notes to “Tripping India”

The Pataphysical Tape Club > Felix Kubin [Big Mag #2 / De Player]
Oy Vey, Angie > If, Bwana [Rex Xhu Ping / Pogus]
The Pataphysical Tape Club > Felix Kubin [Big Mag #2 / De Player]
Cicada #5: Version Bohman > If, Bwana [Rex Xhu Ping / Pogus]
Guten Tag, Wie Gehts > Sänger & Sänger [Duits / Teleac]
Strijdmars der Arbeiders [Protest March of the Workers] > De Stem des Volks [Socialistische Strijdliederen / Varagram]
Silent White Desoto > B/art & Dan & Detta Andreana
The Pataphysical Tape Club > Felix Kubin [Big Mag #2 / De Player]
Tripping India > If, Bwana [Tripping India / Pogus]
Compost Piles > Peter Orlovsky [Totally Corrupt / Giorno Poetry Systems]
Barump Poc > If, Bwana [Breathing / Pogus]
Guten Tag, Wie Gehts > Sänger & Sänger [Duits / Teleac]

“‘Clara Nostra’ began life as clarinots, a 30-minute work for 106,476 clarinets… You may ask yourself ‘106,476 clarinets?’ And you would be right to do so. The original recording of 4 separate clarinet tracks was bounced back and forth between te 4 track, an 8 track and a 2 track, slowed up, speeded up and generally bounced and rebounced so that the end result technically should have, yup, 106,476 clarinets.”
• Liner notes, “Clara Nostra”

Clara Nostra [exc.] > If, Bwana [Clara Nostra / Pogus]
+ Rothbart Verslagen > Charles Dutoit / Carice Van Houten
Ellenbirds > > If, Bwana [33BirdsWent / Pogus]
Beer Mystic Live > Bart Plantenga & the Bass Boys
Called on God’s Carpet > If, Bwana [Radio Slaves / Pogus]
Barump Poc > If, Bwana [Breathing / Pogus]
how the turntables2 > Michael Faux Scott

I went to hear Al Margolis play at the badcuyp, the bathtub in the Pijp in Amsterdam in June. A warm night and a modest but appreciative crowd. Al Margolis jammed and improvised with some local luminaries and there were numerous numinous and magical moments that cannot be explained in any other way than the magic of serendipity and improv. It was around this time that I heard Peter Orlovsky had died. That he made it this far was probably a miracle that no doctor or miracle worker could explain. To me, the real Beats weren’t Kerouac or Ginsberg but Corso and Orlovsky – humans flicked off the wheel of human consciousness and hurled into our midst like huge globs of highly dubious phlegm. His poems had an incredible joyous liberating feel to them when i first read them in my late teens.

Peter Orlovsky (July 8, 1933~2010) is an American poet best known for being the lover of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. A high school drop out, he served as a stateside medic in the US Army during the Korean War. He met Ginsberg through the painter Robert La Vigne in San Francisco in December 1954. Orlovsky served as Ginsberg’s secretary, traveled the world with him, and was his lover in an open relationship for four decades. Orlovsky’s publications include the poetry collection Clean Asshole Poems & Smiling Vegetable Songs, number 37 in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. Of course, one of the greatest Beatnik achievements is Ginsberg’s ‘readings of Blake, but especially when accompanied by Orlovsky who made the stuff come to life, and double especially because Orlovsky could really YODEL and on the Nurse’s song this is especially apropos. Really great.

I had coffee with Al outside at a cafe in the Jordaan and we talked about current recording strategies: should one go for total mp3 downloadable or a limited edition CD + LP for the fanatics and a downloadable? The jury is still out… I also interviewed him.

WTM: If, Bwana has been the name of your projects involving a rotating band of outsiders including Dan & Detta Andreana. Where does the name come from? Is there an African component or something?

AM: Well I really do not see (hear) any African components in my music. The name – which I took as a pseudo-group name back in the cassette days stands for Its Funny, But We Are Not Amused – as in the royal (English, Monty Python) we…. Back then [there was] lots of hiding of identities I suppose…

WTM: Sound of Pig was one of the ‘successful’ cassette labels in the 1980s – I say successful not in terms of profit but longevity. I think of you as someone with a lot of drive to survive. What was the initial idea behind the SOP label and later the Pogus CD label. What are the main differences style wise?

AM: The actual initial idea behind SOP was to have tapes to trade. I started getting into buying indie cassettes and instead of spending the dough, one could exchange tapes… and, as I started to do work on If, Bwana material, it became a way to release that into the world. And then I found I liked promoting a different kind of music and not just my own. Pogus began concurrently with Sound of Pig – it really came from my getting interested in contemporary classical music – and Dave Prescott and I – we thought perhaps we would start this other label together – the initial impetus was kind of doing a “before they die” series…Scelsi and Luigi Nono and Morton Feldman had died and all of a sudden it was “safe” for record companies to put their music out. We wanted to get some of these folks early, so one of the first we contacted (it didn’t pan out – he wanted money) was Mauricio Kagel. So Pogus was more of a contemporary music label and SOP more noise/out stuff… less disciplined (I suppose).

WTM: What is the best selling SOP cassette? And do you ever consider putting out a best of SoP? Or rereleasing the back catalog?

AM: I think the best-selling SOP tape is probably the Jim O’Rourke “Some Kind of Pagan” tape (for, I guess, obvious reasons) – though that may actually be more of an after-the-fact thing – probably while the label was running it might have been the Psyclones – or Het Zweet. Some have suggested a best of SOP – never really interested in that – and people can actually still buy the cassettes if they want – anything more than that – re-releasing the catalog would probably mean getting rights etc… so more work than [I’m] interested in really.

WTM: What is the best-selling Pogus release? Why do you think that is?

AM: Pauline Oliveros “Alien Bog/Beautiful Soop” is far and away the biggest seller – great music plus timeliness I think – not much, if any, of her early electronic work was out at that time – Paradigm in England also did well I believe with their CD that came out almost simultaneously and drew from a similar time period (1966/67 or so).

WTM: What is wrong with the world of sound today?

AM: I’m not sure if there is anything wrong with the world of sound. If there is anything wrong and this is something that is not wrong or problematic – both connotations are too negative – there may be too much sound…lots to hear and nowhere near enough time to do so….

WTM: Where do you find inspiration for If, Bwana?

AM: It kind of comes in 2 ways: there is either some technical problem I am curious about – not specifically technical but maybe compositional is a better choice of words – and that tends to lead to the more process-oriented pieces, allowing the process to work itself out. And then there are the pieces inspired by sounds/instruments … if this explains anything.

WTM: What does the future hold for small labels? what are the options?

AM: Small labels are potentially less exposed to the vagaries of the music business … just working in a less financial pressured situation – but it is still difficult. Also, being small does give labels options to do vinyl, cassettes, CDRs, small runs, digital-only and make that kind of work. I mean, in the end, it is really about the music and not the delivery system,  but it is kind of sad to see physical product wither away slowly.

WTM: How do you balance businessman and creative person?

AM: Funny, my wife works for some others in the same position who may not do that “split personality” so well … I am not really a businessman, more og a creative person doing business, and for me, doing this – well in reality there is not much money – I mean that I find it useless to try and make any artistic decisions (whether for the label or my own music) based on any commercial considerations – so, perhaps, even the business part is sort of creative – how does one stay in business? Especially considering that probably some of the worst-selling Pogus titles are my own…

WTM: But you seem to avoid the biggies as far as new classical goes. You know, no Branca, Feldman, Xanakis, Bryars, Vitello, Ashley, etc. Is that because you like the underdog, the less famous?

AM: Yeah, well, I actually do sort of prefer the underdog, although it is hard to call Pauline Oliveros such. And actually upcoming [on Pogus] is an Alvin Lucier release… But I do like to troll the backroads, yes, I mean, others have those biggies covered….

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