Many things are often argued about the electronic scene in Barcelona. Things ranging from it’s very existence to its virtues and shortcomings, to the international presence that it might have. After too long submitting the scene to rigorous analysis, DAFO makes it so that one day, by pure dumb luck, Pulshar appears in your life and makes you look like a fool. Check it out, Santa Claus is my parents, and I’ve been writing letters to a guy with a fake beard… It turns out that the scene is what it is, an intangible, indefinable entity that is impossible to place limits on, however much you argue. And right around the corner, while you are debating about the musical state of the nation, Pablo Bolívar and Aphro Saínz have some dub-techno simmering; dub-techno that will appear in your existence sooner or later so that you can sing “life can be wonderful.” It happened to me with Pulshar and it is happening to me these days with other musical projects brought to term in Barcelona; I suppose that the same thing will happen to readers wherever they live. But I have to confess that the impact that this duo with the delicatessen ice cream logo had on me was considerable. So much so that I still have “Mr. Money Man” on my iPod –which is only one gigbyte.
“Mr. Money Man” opened Pulshar’s first album, “Babylon Fall Collection,” which played with the title and the cover (Barcelona playing the role of Babylon, under a lead-grey sky) to prepare the listener. Next came the first LP, “Brotherhood”, the extended version of the original idea. Well then, “Inside” maintains the essence of the sound hieroglyph that was the cover of the duo’s first EP. That nod to its Jamaican roots—because Babylon is that kind of term: as soon as you hear the word, you see the Jamaican flag—has extended to this album. Pulshar continues to incorporate the cadence of reggae into its rhythms and the melancholy composure of its melodies. There to vouch for this is the collaboration with reggae producer and vocalist Roberto Sánchez, giving rise to two of the best passages on the album: “Empty Suitcase” and “Stepping Stones.” The damp, smoking, translucent, misty atmosphere of autumn mornings appears in “Distant Fire,” in “S.T.A.R.S.”, or in “California State of Mind”. The atmospheres become exceptionally cold in “Distant Fire,” with the phantasmagoric air of echoes and heavy, distant basses. But the feeling over the course of the album is one of warmth and cosiness. It’s a mild autumn in a Mediterranean climate, where the sun is often shining.
Up to here are the most genuine features of Pulshar, which show Aphro Saínz’s influence, adding that touch of sensuality and elegance –not only with his voice, but also in the design of all of the project’s artwork, which I personally find to be sublime. Nevertheless, there is also space for instrumental songs, full of rhythm, with influences from space disco, house, touches of Balearic, even hip hop or soul. Like “Da Creator,” which would fit in perfectly well with one of the Permanent Vacation compilations, or “United States of Pulshar” evoking a playful DJ Shadow. Definitively, songs that stray from that “Babylonian” course that characterises them and warn you that not only are they good at awakening your own “triphopper” ghost (the one that has been living in hibernation since Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” and which came to life again with Burial), but which also show that they are in good shape when it comes to awakening our sense of rhythm. “Inside” is complete, well-rounded, and varied, and may be enjoyed both by neophytes and those of us who were already fans. The electronic scene in Barcelona will continue to be abstract and ethereal, but it is very clear that wonderful things are waiting right around the corner.