"One of the things we tried to do with the show [Monty Python's Flying Circus] was to try and do something that was so unpredictable that it had no shape and you could never say what the kind of humour was."
- Terry Jones, speaking in 1998
Ash Cooke - better known as Pulco - is an exceptionally prolific artist. Sure, it's been a solid year and a half since his last full-length album, Innovations in the Trade, but judging by his Bandcamp page he's been far from silent during that period, releasing two new EPs, two radio sessions, and an eighteen-track compilation in that time
And now we have Farmyard & Library, a bumper-sized new album that finds the king of Welsh DIY music traversing still stranger sonic territories than those heard on Innovations in the Trade. Cooke makes music the way Monty Python made comedy: constantly striving to defy expectations and do the last thing you'd predict at every turn. As a result, Farmyard & Library is a surreal collage of song; Pulco's music has its foundations in lo-fi, guitar-based indie rock, but Cooke never allows himself to be bound by genre or style. Instead, he uses indie rock structure and instrumentation as a springboard for exploration, throwing in as many surprises as he can along the way.
The sudden shift from 4/4 to 3/4 time in Unleash the Hounds is actually one of the album's tamer left-turns.
One of the great joys of putting on a Pulco album is having absolutely no idea what you're going to get when you press 'play'. You might get a sweet, laid-back number like Bookworm, or you might get a nervy, Specials-influenced song like Brunswick.
Then again, you might get a bizarre short story about a lion (see album opener Foolish Ways) or an introduction to soldering (The Universal Solder). This is untethered, mind-expanding stuff, and well worth a listen if you like your music to educate, inspire, and surprise you.
Or if you like The Fall. It's also well worth your time if you like The Fall.