The first thing that came to mind when I heard Ça (It) was: “Aha, so Pulcinella has started using a synth? That’s funny, it really changes their music.” I tried to remember if that was how it was before, if maybe I’d missed something. But no, from Stage Nail in 2006 to 3/4 of an Ounce eleven years later, no sign of any machines; they’d always been loyal to a particular idea of the quartet: saxophone, accordion, bass, drumkit. Something acoustic. Almost traditional, old-style. Something to go crash bang wallop, that works even if there’s a power cut that evening...
Ferdinand Doumerc – saxophones, flutes, melodica
Florian Demonsant – accordion, Elka organ
Jean-Marc Serpin – double bass
Pierre Pollet – drums
About the album
All compositions by Pulcinella, except tracks 2, 4 by Ferdinand Doumerc; track 3 by Florian Demonsant; track 5 by
Ferdinand Doumerc, Florian Demonsant and Pierre Pollet; track 10 by Florian Demonsant & Ferdinand Doumerc
Arrangements by Pulcinella
Recorded by Viktor Szabó at BMC Studio on 13-16 January, 2019
Mixed by Arthur Ower at Studio Providence, Toulouse
Mastering by Raphaël Jonin at Studio J RAPH i.n.g.
Artwork: László Huszár / Greenroom
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
Mathieu Durand - le-grigri.com (fr)
Jean-François Sciabica - Citizen Jazz (élu) (fr)
Yazid Kouloughi - Jazz Magazine (fr)
Hans-Jürgen Schaal - Fidelity Magazin (de)
Z. K. Slabý - UNI (cz)
Matti Komulainen - Hifimaailma (fin)
Olasz Sándor - Riff.hu (hu)
Bereczki Bálint - JazzMa (hu)
Márton Attila - Demokrata.hu
Komlós József JR - Alföldi Régió Magazin (hu)
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
(find original French text below)
But in fact, listening again, I think I even heard a rhythm box. Or sounds like in a video game from the Mario Bros era from Atari. All the more intriguing. I really don’t know what to make of it. It’s like suddenly giving a vegan an egg, and saying it goes well with his complexion. Well, with Pulcinella, it’s the same: this synthesized- electronics suits their complexion. It’s like a dash of makeup that brings out different cheekbones. Although not outrageous makeup like that of the terrifying clown in Stephen King’s novel It. No, Pulcinella’s It is rather the Freudian “id”, full of unnameable instincts. Could it be that this quartet from Toulouse have always, in secret (or even subconsciously) loved video games, synths and rhythm boxes, and that have they finally let these hidden desires come out on this CD?
Well, obviously, I asked this very question. And wait for it, because their answer will surprise you/us. “No, strictly speaking there’s no synth on the album! Actually, it’s an Elka organ with an accordion button, an old vintage keyboard from the late 1970s. It was in the middle of a dressing room at a festival we played at. We spent a whole afternoon relishing it like mad, and in the end the owners gave it to us! It took some time to master all the possibilities it offered: sometimes it seemed like a rhythm box, an electric guitar, a Moog... It’s weird, impossible to classify, timeless, way-out, with all its imperfections and its hit-and-miss feel, we clicked with it straight away. Even if the sound electric, as an instrument it’s still coherent with Pulcinella’s vision!” Frankly, I was bowled over.
It’s like with a film or a book, where the final twist makes you read or watch it again. So, I listened to It again, but it wasn’t the first It any longer. It was different. As if Pulcinella had changed from a quartet to a quintet, as if the famous “Elka” had become the fifth member of the group. It has to be said that an organ like this is more than just an instrument: it’s a piece of furniture, an orchestra, a pyramid of mystery, of secret chambers, of open tombs. On top of that, it’s a good thing, this business of recycling stuff. A large organ left to rot, and four French lab technicians give it a new lease of life. Perhaps that is the It of the title: a sleeping monster that the Doctors Frankenstein of instrumental music rouse from deep slumber.
The other funny thing is that I discovered this album at the same time as my daughter discovered language, the stage when she calls every object, person, or situation “it” or “that” to ask what things are called. Because that is also, more than anything, an huge catch-all. And that’s what I’ve always liked in Pulcinella’s attitude. That wild feel, dancing on the edge, a bit punk. That feel of a huge bag where you can put all the music you love/know/ possess without having to worry about one type staining/ripping/embracing the other. With It, they seem to have shown all of that in broad daylight. The first album they’ve made to have been shaped by improvisations rather than written pieces, it’s also a CD in which I find more space, dreaminess, and apparent stand-stills than in the past. A bit like an actor who over time loses the fear of the pauses between words, and even makes them last longer than normal.
In this, unlike the synth idea, Pulcinella confirmed I was right: “in this CD, we gave ourselves the watchword of creating pieces less based on rupture. Over time, we’d grown less fond of the “zapping” style that we used to have. So we didn’t shy away from making the sections longer, from staying in or insisting on a groove, things we didn’t dare to before, for fear of being boring.”
In a work passionately christened Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles gives three pieces of advice to aspiring writers: Work, Relaxation, Don’t Think. In It I have the feeling that Pulcinella have achieved precisely this holy trinity: by dint of their work since their debuts in 2004, they can now easily let themselves go. Even in the titles of the pieces. “I stroked the custom officer’s dog”, almost a haïku in which you can imagine anything. It seems like a dream with symbolic power, an it that you narrate while being sure that some weird thing is going to be revealed. It seems like something simultaneously soft and dangerous. It seems like a taboo that you’ve broken. It really seems like this sixth album from Pulcinella has nothing to do with customs officers who control the borders between genres, styles, and aesthetics. No, these guys have some dog in them, and they can stroke, bark, and laze around all in the same gesture.
Translated by Richard Robinson
Remerciements / Thanks to:
Lucile Bouju pour l’orgue Elka, Gabriel Denneulin (Zorg effects), Guillaume Pique, Yohann Perret, Johnny Torchy, Ernő Hock, Gábor Weisz