Talk to the right people and you will come to realise that Ariel Rosenberg, the man behind ‘Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’ has been on the West Coast scene as far back as 1996 but despite a dedicated cult following they really didn’t start to make waves until 2004 when ‘The Doldrums’ was released via Paw Tracks, Animal Collective’s label that also boasts Dent May and Black Dice as some of it’s worthy members. Having been a champion of the Lo-Fi aesthetic that has seen so many rise to fame over the last few years ‘Before Today’ is a step into unknown territory for Ariel Pink, their début for 4AD comes at a time when so many art forms are harking back to retro stylings as seemingly some sort of mass rebellion against the computer and modern age, music has been at the forefront of that rebellion and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti are at the top of that list.
Each song beautifully, crafted at the infamous Encino at the House of Blues studio tells a different tale each more surreal and downright extreme than the last, managing to merge 60’s funk, early Gabriel fronted Genesis, heavy rock and 80’s synth pop and make it sound insanely fresh and exciting. It’s a hard thing mixing in so many different genres and with so many styles going on a record like this could easily go horribly wrong. Fortunately for Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti, an unruly mob made up of a number of characters from LA’s underground scene, the chemistry between the four of them is just right and they make the balancing of so many different genres seem easy. Ironically if this had been released 30 or 40 years ago it probably would have been hated but 2010 is perfect timing for a record as daring as this, these guys are a real find.
As one song ends and the next one begins, something completely different is brought to the plate. Take ‘L'estat (Acc. To The Widow's Maid)’ for instance, it starts off as a twee indie pop number before everything goes silent and a mass psych freak out ensues ending in a prog style break down making the likes of Wakeman envious. ‘Round And Round’ is an experimental take on 60’s funk whilst ‘Fright Night (Nevermore)´ fits in dense layers of synth over softly echoed vocals whilst Menopause Man showcases more clearly than most their fairly tongue-in-cheek outlook with a song based around sex change, dark lyrics such as ‘break me, castrate me, make me gay.’
Ariel Pink are a rarity for sure, no other band in existence can reel in and experiment with so many different genres yet still retain such a shrill, enviable pop aesthetic. When ‘Before Today’ drops on June 7th I implore you to go get your groove on and come and listen to possibly the coolest band on the planet right now.
Words : Gordon Reid