Poland’s Pawlacz Perski has just released two superlative experimental cassettes on the same day. Lech Nienartowicz and Michał Wolski‘s tape is an investigation of clocks, chimes and strings, while Duy Gebord‘s Kelp is inspired by a floating island of trash. Each surprises listeners in the way that only the best experimental music can do.
Listening to Nienartowicz’ half of the split tape, I am reminded of a sparser work, MUFI.RE’s Mechanics of Suspended Time, that was released last year. That work investigated the sonorities of three antique clocks; Nienartowicz’ new tracks bring the investigation to the next level through the integration of strings, drones and unidentified percussion. The result is multilayered and mesmerizing. To quote Dr. Suess: “I get all those ticks and clocks, sir, mixed up with the chicks and tocks, sir.” What a beautiful racket it is. A short track, “Czynności”, is followed by the longer “Nadczynności”, which takes up the same theme. One is led to thoughts not only of time, but of the way we mark time, using sound to break up periods of silence.
At first, Wolski’s modular synth tracks seem unrelated: darker, slower, more intimidating. A thick, eventually stuttered beat lends “Czarny Chleb” the tempo of a death march. Watery field recordings gurgle and pop like gears washing ashore. But when the chimes take over at the end of “Biały Chleb”, a connection is made to Side A. The two are more related than we first thought: in essence, they form a complimentary pair. Listening again, one realizes that the deep bell of “Nadczynności” and the deep beat of “Czarny Chleb” are comrades-in-arms, and that the tape works well on continuous loop.
Another connection can then be made to Kelp, which continues the watery theme. Duy Gebord’s work isn’t typical ocean or beach fare; it’s thick and troubled, cluttered with sonic debris. Listening is a lot like swimming through kelp. Tendrils constrict the arms and legs. Panic ensues. The pretty cover hides the fact that the work “echoes a story of an imaginary sea garbage patch (that) travels through cold seeps, encounters ghost snails and green anemones (and) mixes kelps with magnetic tape”. The artist’s lovely description is matched by intricate sonics. “Suncup” offers cars, conversation and carnivorous electronics, while “Diopside” is nearly industrial, filled with peeps and clanks. Water floods the far side of the song, submerging small surges of melody.
More sea and brine continues to enter throughout the cassette, until the entire tape is waterlogged. Little noises float on this sonic ocean: meows, cymbal taps, flips and ejections of the cassette itself. A richness of sound is crushed into a floating entity, reflecting its subject matter. We begin to cheer for this mass of garbage as it continues its journey. The only irony is that the collection makes one eager to make more garbage, not less, and to throw it into the sea. That’s the power of a great recording: it leads one to unexpected thoughts and desires. As for the tape itself, as well as the Nienartowicz / Wolski split: no one is going to toss these. They are buoys on a turbulent sea. (Richard Allen)