I’ve occasionally thought of Fire Museum Records as being somewhat hit-or-miss. Their obvious passion for releasing numerous odd or challenging albums, combined with my notorious ability to be picky, will surely result in a few unpleasant collisions. Still, Fire Museum has more than earned my attention with bold risk-taking; and when something goes right, it’s terrific.
A case in point– Pulga’s “Pulga Loves You,” a surprisingly stately turn of electroacoustics for two musicians usually associated with the generally-aimless “free folk” camp; the nebulous (and somewhat undefinable) movement fully capable of turning out great work, but often simply flooding listeners with sub-par limited edition discs.
“Pulga Loves You” not only builds on the successes of free folk, but transcends it in many ways, with a fully-realized album; densely layered, richly dynamic, and very much worth listeners’ time to experience it over and over again.
Listen to “Tequila Feast” with headphones and see if you don’t agree. It starts with a slow wash of electronic drone, to which bells and jangly strings are gradually revealed. The hint of a drum beat surfaces, with video game noises surfacing to herald the arrival of– you’ll never guess it– something almost like afrobeat and drone, all at once. It’s a really tremendous moment, made all the more fascinating by Pulga’s casual transition to other sounds, and another track.
“Raga Pulga” is the real highlight here, though. At nearly 19 minutes, it is double the length of any other track on the disc, and makes the most of every minute. Equal parts Edgard Varese, John Zorn, and Edward Ruchalski; “Raga Pulga” moves with the calm confidence found in much older musicians. Personally, I’d chalk it up to the yeoman-like work ethic of these two– Vanessa Niwi Rossetto often has interesting new works posted to her site each day, while Valerio Cosi’s discography reads like an Aquarius Records catalog. As further demonstration of Rossetto and Cosi’s abilities, “Pulga Loves You” was apparently constructed by mail– a collaboration between Texas and Taranto.
On a more technical side, the sound quality of this disc is quite good. Whatever challenges collaborating over great distances may have presented, Pulga seems to have overcome, with mastering by Cosi that deftly handles large amounts of sound sources without become muddy. In fact, this is a fine album for headphone listening, which makes some of the ultra-slow fade-ins even more enjoyable.