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Paulina Owczarek & Peter Orins — You Never Know
(Circum-Disc microcidi 025, 2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-01-15

You Never Know Cover art

You never know, do you? Owczarek (alto and baritone saxes) and Orins (percussion) met back in 2015 when they were invited to join the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin. Owczarek, from Krakow, Poland, and Orins, from Lille, France, remained in contact in the ensuing years. In 2019 Owczarek invited Orins to perform at his solo show in Krakow, and also took that opportunity to perform as a duet of free improvisation, which in turn led to an invitation from Orins to come to Lille in February 2021 and record the album at hand. It’s evident from the very start of the opening cut, “What Might Happen,” and all throughout the album’s five tracks that the duo is thoroughly immersed in the joy of their unlimited freedom and sonic experimentation. So what does this sound like? My first reaction to the opener was that it was out there, like really out there. One hears Orins making odd random percussive sounds, while Owczarek plays a sax without putting any wind through it, so one just hears the keys clicking and such, making it a percussion instrument as well. The miking and mixing is such that all sounds get an equal level, making the whole endeavor quite interesting, beyond jazz or any other recognizable form, just pure experimentation with sounds. With “How People Behave” we begin to hear saxes more as expected for the instruments that they are, beginning with just breath and squeaks and eventually putting forth melodic sounds while Orins makes all kinds of curious sounds. The track is over eighteen minutes, so it has plenty of time to develop as it goes forward, the tuneful sax melodics kicking in at around the five-minute mark, though one needs to listen with patience, as everything here evolves slowly. And so it goes with the remaining tracks, seeming to alternate between the free melodic and the purely percussive sounds. There’s a lot going on here, quite interestingly it remains very free and expansive all the way to the end, a groove is never found, but it exists as pure sonic exploration. Probably not one’s idea of everyday listening, but as I listen to this for the sixth or seventh time, it does make for an interesting and enjoyable journey.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Peter Orins, Paulina Owczarek

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