I need a definition? I’m that kind of a mind I can’t have loose threads flapping in the wind…?” (Adam Walton opening up the album with What’s in a name?)
Pulco: Barack Obama’s favourite Ipod App
Pulco: An albino Platypus….
Pulco: A Jamaican slang term for ALL music that is not reggae
PULCO: Bono’s modest dungaree wearing alter ego when he appears at bluegrass festivals
Pulco: The Swiss national movement mostly dedicated to ejecting Phil Collins from its country.
P U L C O: The Padstow underground Collective….
Pulco? A cornish indie band of the mid eighties split apart by fish related differences… (But some of many and numerous, amusing, fictional? Wikipeda? definitions as read by Walton in Final track ‘Mexican Mods and Mexican Rockers’)
Pulco aka Ash Cooke a quiet North Walian man in his mid thirties, who spent his formative years in the group Derrero, releasing three albums, and touring with the likes of the Super furrys, Sebadoa and Grandaddy, as well as playing a part in the musical accompaniment to the John Cale film ‘Beautiful Mistake.’ He also recorded three sessions with John Peel.Since Derrero, Mr Pulco has released numerous solo recordings. We tell you all of this not to impress you or to beat you into submission with clunky name drops, but to give you a bit of background, and to put his current work into context.
A few small thoughts from the years….
Shunning the limelight of big stages and industry back slapping Mr Pulco(as we shall call him from this point on) retreated to the comfort of his DIY ‘wardrobe studio’, recording and piecing together songs in the short breaks between the chaos and business of regular life. The latest product is a long player ‘Small Thoughts,’ more than just another album of formulaic verse /chorus music, its an unhurried eighteen track assembled: trawl through the fascinating inner works of his mind. An extended mixture of modestly gorgeous melodies, and thought provoking poetry, sewn together through a patchwork of samples, field recordings, half remembered noises from the past, and the wide-eyed interruptions of his kids. Collected together its a startlingly inventive album that reflects a modest, self aware but bravely talented artist looking around him and pondering just where “his where his life is at.”
Enough of the history lessons what are the highlights, dear boy?
Well I’ll save you an extended critique there after all eighteen pieces of noise here and this album has been starring at me longingly shouting ‘review me! review me!’ since mid June. However here are but a few. The Magisterial balladry of ‘Place A Lid’ see’s Mr Pulco’s hushed, heart tugging melody stroll sedately across freshly cut green grass, peering into the middle distance: pondering the passing of another day and what its all worth? It possesses the gentle gorgeousness of a latter day Ooberman track. The almost creepy pianos and clip clopping percussion of ‘Oxbow Lake’ reveal a clever poem about the dreams of one day reviving a local lake destroyed ambition and progress…
While one of the standouts ‘Machines Mind’ is a glorious fizzing effort, where Mr Pulco resembles the Welsh answer to Sparklehorse, all high pitched bittersweet melodies buried beneath a heap of effects and threads of distortion peddle. A wonky melody swinging it’s legs on a wall, perching precariously on the edge of saccharine but remaining resolutely delightful, and when the foot stamping ‘woos woos’ kick in around the final minute its glorious! By contrast the effortless wistfulness of ‘Beanbags’ clips along on sighing melodies that float like the dust of the air of your uninhabited backroom. The subtle 1984 under currents of ‘Data Perils’ weave their way into your brain (‘dangers ever near/peril waits for you/data held on you’) on a delectable wave of circular rhythmic guitars and delicate almost Eliot Smith-esque quivering vocals. Elsewhere there’s a illuminating biography cum appraisal of the work and life of 16 century still life painter Jan Van Kessel punctuated by spoken words, fragments of Pulco melody and children’s singing.
Most of those are ‘songs’ though you said something about poems?!
THERE IS! ‘Poem over Hovering Ambience’ is a shiveringly introspective haiku: where Mr Pulco questions what will be left when he’s gone. A Dictaphone poem plays over a delicate arpeggio line, field recordings of parks, family breakfasts crate a backdrop for his sometimes-morbid musings (‘A life’s work for nothing/I hope they keep my box of bits and bobs when I’m gone?’) Perhaps the best moments are saved for last ‘Travel Lodge Mirror’ a deconstructed beat, and splayed guitar strings reveal a brutally honest middle of the night reflection on ageing, wisdom, and the unbearable lightness of being in a modern world gone mad. ‘I was resigned to the fact that I’d never be found That I’d be left just reeling from day to day’ notes mr Pulco, the worth of work eroded by ‘fast foot employment’ an unfulfilling world of drudgery and fleeting contract work that grinds our protagonist Mr Pulco down, but you see despite everything he’ll always be a creative spirit (‘you see I’m fatally flawed wherever I am whatever I do I’ll always be an artist and a poet and that will be my undoing but I try to adapt and change and try to live behind the mask covering the travel lodge mirror.’)
But, but is it REALLY any good?
Why yes, Mr Pulco may parade under the banner of a off kilter lo fi artist but his songs are beautifully and honestly constructed, never sounding like demos, instead there’s a clarity to these recordings borne one suspects of his previous experience in the world of music. And the songs well I call them songs these suites of sounds and words, burrow charmingly into your sub consciousness digging out fragments of thoughts and feelings and memories of the past, rather like an extended scrap book that you found in your uncles loft and spent all of Sunday evening submerging yourself in. Take some time amongst the hectic 9 to 5 lives to discover Mr Pulco’s ‘Small Thoughts’. If there’s a nomination going begging for yesterday’s announced welsh music awards maybe they could find some space for this most deserving of releases?