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Arszyn/Duda & Paper Cuts – There is No Conclusion (Review)

Published March, 2017
by Easterndaze

The mysterious, obtuse and bare-knuckle avant-garde There Is No Conclusion is a release from the collective improvisations of Krzysztof ‘Arszyn’ Topolski, Tomasz Duda and the duo formerly recognized as Paper Cuts (Wojtek Kurek and Lukasz Kacperczyk), released on Warsaw based label Pawlacz Perski. It’s three pieces of abstract sounds and free jazz orientated improv music; two of which ascend the ten minute mark, fighting structure and linear characteristics of ‘traditional music’. But unlike some lengthy improvisation releases, the group maintain an air of engagement throughout the entire odyssey; at the same time forcing the listener to question the formalities of truly experimental music, and offering a thought provoking statement about how the place and form of performance can impact and influence the music release.

For those of you who un-aware of label Pawlacz Perski, their rostering and release history reads like the far outskirts of what most would call ‘accessible’ music; covering diverse and experimental music beyond the threshold of definition. For example, a release by the label entitled Okoły gnębione wiatrem, by artist Bachorze, centres around several deep, drowning pieces of avant-jazz built around a screeching saxophone, backed by electronics that sound akin to a drill or jack hammer. Another, entitled Mneme, by artist Jacek Mazurkiewicz, is almost the complete opposite; sounding almost on the verge of meditative. Over two tracks, the listener is fed rattling gong brushes and reverb, accompanied by the occasional screech of electronic music, a lucid violin and lowercase tinkerings. Moral of the story; Pawlacz Perski release extensive and engaging music, highlighting the most interestingly quirky and unorthodox music in and around Eastern Europe. And while not all of their releases are the sort of stuff you would put on at a Tupperware party, they remain ridiculously intriguing and captivating as both music and as listening experiences.

There Is No Conclusion [ppt38] by ADPC (Arszyn / Duda & Paper Cuts)

It makes sense, then, for the label to release There Is No Conclusion, whose characteristics are every bit alluring, confusing and darkly winsome as the aforementioned releases. Recorded ‘live in concert’ at the acclaimed and equally as interesting Biuro Dźwięku Katowice in Southern Poland, the release begins with the lengthy, nineteen minute ’12 To 16’. This track is as close to what some would call ‘traditional free jazz’ as you get on the release, equipped with fantastic and progressive drumming skills by half of Paper Cuts that stay at a steady, swinging beat that holds the background of the musical chaos together somewhat. The first half of the song is where the realms of jazz are inspired thoroughly; featuring ear bending saxophone and heavy percussion. But as the song progresses, so does the experimentation which comes to include electronics, synthesizers, radios and other samples that turns the mood of the music schizophrenic in its diversity. And although its epic-ness and sheer weight makes it sound like pushing through metaphorical sludge, it is in fact an interesting full circle; beginning with elements that featured deep into the second half of the song.

The following song ‘Pan Radio’ opens with a lowercase radio frequency and centres around more experimental instruments and passages of music. Less jazz like, ‘Pan Radio’ contains the screech and fuzz of a radio that plays speeches and talking in a sample like manner. The percussion (for most of the song) remains much less intricate and free form than the opening track. The inclusion of saxophone adds another dense level to the avant-garde escapades the group of musicians thrash out. One should note the second half of the song, where heavy saxophone accompanies synthesizer to create a fantastic droning-jazz inspired piece of sonic electronica.

‘Bo Diddley’ sits at just over five minutes; making it a more condensed adventure than the other tracks on There Is No Conclusion, equipped with a different type of instrumentation and sound altogether. But the mood of the song is far from being unlike the other two on the EP; it’s claustrophobic, morph-like shape forms connect with ‘Pan Radio’ in a brilliantly transitional way. Unlike the other songs however, ‘Bo Diddley’ only contains the crunch and churn of synthesizers, samples and other various electronic sounds, which amount to what seems could be likened to a dense, improvised piece of soothing ambient music. Eventually, as the instruments and sounds amass, the song begins to feel like a clear extension of the rest of the music on the release.

Altogether There Is No Conclusion rewards its listeners by containing a few elements, one of which is the players that appear on the recording. Kacperczyks musical creations on a modular synthesizer prove to be an essential ingredient to the musical soundscapes of the EP. Accompany this with Arszyn’s use of a radio as an instrument to create an extra layer and sample like sounds and the two create a wild, textured sound that shines its brightest on the wavering ‘Bo Diddley’. One of the greatest elements of the entire project is the percussion section; holding the background of blast beats and cymbal runs in a free jazz context that sounds as brilliant as they do original. From a slow tap to a full kit, the beats and hits of the kit reinforces the music while still maintaining the all-important ‘feel’ of improvised music. To top all of this off, the screeching, fantastic blasts of Duda’s saxophone add a necessary tightness to the wild blasts of music; especially on the opening track.

I thought for a while, while listening to There Is No Conclusion, what makes interesting and thoughtful improvised music? Is it the quality of performance and performer? Is it the relationships, dynamics and connection between the players? Is it the dis-connection between the players? Is it in the performance itself? Is it how loose it is? I read a few bits and pieces and declared it was all the questions I had asked and more. Improvised music should speak for itself in its connection, it’s fluidity and it’s performative elements, to represent those involved in a way that transcends what linear, formatted music can do. I noticed eagerly after this statement was made that There Is No Conclusion had personified it; it all its glory and its noise.

By Cam Phillips