I've previously reviewed Vanessa Rossetto under her The Mighty Acts of God moniker as well as last year's killer disc by her creeping free jazz duo Bright Duplex. Pulga finds Rossetto in by-mail collabo-mode with Italy's Valerio Cosi, a certified badass in his own right.
Similarly to that Bright Duplex disc where two people played like a hundred things, Cosi and Rossetto must have pilfered music shops around the world for the assortment of instruments at work here from sax and viola to shruti box and balalaika. The first of the CD's five tracks, "Return to the Forest of Shoes" begins with a wondrous choir of saxophones. Smooth but slightly unnerving, an excellent way to start off the album. The piece seems to expand organically, effortlessly like a mist slowly filling your head. Abstract groaning, rumbling tones threaten to overtake the saxophone but never make good on it so there's an uneasy coexistence between the tones until the sax manages to slip away briefly. Gleaming, auto-panned percussion is met with a shrieking sax solo, melding together in a mass of aural confusion. There's a lot more going on than I'm letting on but as I said my brain is frightfully disoriented and overloaded right now. The final minute of the jam is killer though! Some rhythmic loops are pulsing with this unusual melody, waves of sax are cascading and random little tones are pitter-pattering around until it comes to a close. "Still It Rides Me" further ups the ante, beginning with reversed guitar, layers of keyboard hits and light touches of percussion. The whole arrangement sounds like it's being shaken around in a glass. So many different rhythms are operating at once but none of them choose to take the lead so you get this piece with the illusion that the rhythm is constantly changing while somehow keeping a steady beat. Around halfway through the duo settles on a single rhythm and bring voices and other elements that are careful not to distract from the triumphant groove taking place. The piece ultimately culminates in a slow swirl of guitar, voice and a stringed instrument of some sort which drifts directing into "Tequila Feast" on a deep synth tone. At 3 minutes, it's a good amount shorter than the previous tracks and it moves through its course at a much faster clip. Like "Still It Rides Me" it's heavily focused on rhythm. It's much less shy about it as well. There's big bold percussion, a bass line and jaunty sax line. Not exactly funk but a touch of it. "Fuck the Satellites" is another short piece with a heavy presence of drums and guitar among many other things. It's rhythm swings a tad more on the free side than "Tequila Feast" though it culminates in a distorted explosion of sound and then a lone Morphine-styled bass part. The hefty, final track "Raga Pulga" features a lengthy saxophone intro by Cosi. He delivers some nice work and after about 2 minutes synths float in behind him. The duo then weaves a wonderful web of melodies and small loops. At one point there's a harpsichord thing going on but that's not listed as an instrument so it must be one of the instruments I've never heard of. The sax is a constant element throughout but the harpsichord thing shifts into a either a synth or maybe(?) a heavily treated viola. The piece continues down its dark spiraling path of synth, sax, bells and whatever else. There might even be sitar in there, but I'll be damned if I know.
This being a mail collaboration, Rossetto and Cosi put this album together really well, the only thing that its missing is that spontaneous feel of material recorded live. That's the nature of the beast though.
This is only the Pulga record that exists I believe and I'm not sure if it was just a one-off collaboration (might be) so I'd definitely make sure to check this out.
Pro-pressed CD. Edition of 500. Still available from Fire Museum.