I’ve seen Andrew Bird live twice in my life. The first time was at the Chicago Opera House back in early 2009. The second time was at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis, IN in the fall of 2009. Both shows were stunning, Bird displaying a mastery of musical art like no other. But both shows were different versions of Andrew Bird. The Chicago show was the meticulous, almost dandy-like version of the musician with the first twenty minutes nothing but Bird with several mics and standing in the middle of a circle of looper pedals. Moving from pedal to pedal he created a veritable orchestra with nothing more than looped violin lines and whistles. It was breathtaking and awe-inspiring, and I’m sure it’s also maddening to keep everything in time and on cue as well. The fall show was something altogether different. It was loose, loud, and jangly. Bird played a beat up Fender Mustang as much as he played his cherished violin. He seemed to want to prove to the world that he could get noisy and rock like the best of ’em. For the most part he succeeded in that.
I Want to See Pulaski at Night is an e.p., though not an e.p. in the classic sense. For most artists this would be considered a full blown album, not an e.p. Clocking in at over 32 minutes this is more of a mini-album(unless you’re Sufjan Stevens, then an e.p. is roughly around an hour long.) It seems Mr. Bird wrote a great song called “Pulaski at Night” and instead of holding onto it until he had an album’s worth of music to share along with it he wrote several incidental musical pieces that followed the same musical twists and turns of “Pulaski at Night”. The result is the mostly instrumental I Want to See Pulaski at Night, a wonderful addition to Andrew Bird’s musical canon.
If you’re at all familiar with his companion record to 2009s Noble Beast titled Useless Creatures, and even his 2003 album Weather Systems, then you already know what to expect here. The center of this e.p. is “Pulaski at Night” for sure, but instrumental numbers like “Ethio Invention No.1”, “Lit from Underneath”, and “Hover l &ll” create a sort of suite that helps make this a cohesive musical journey that could’ve scored some independent film or quirky documentary you’d see on IFC late some Sunday evening. Bird has delved into film scoring already(2010s Norman)and has proven to be rather adept at it. His music is already very visual, creating scenes in the mind with the mere pluck of a violin string or a looped whistle creating counter melodies within counter melodies. I Want to See Pulaski at Night is a further step towards becoming the next Cliff Martinez, or to a lesser extent Johnny Greenwood.
What Andrew Bird wrote this mini-album? Was it the meticulous plucker and whistler from the Chicago Opera House; or the loose and jangly Murat Theater version? More the former than the latter this time around, but both are present and accounted for.
7.8 out of 10