Release Date: Jun 8, 2010
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Experimental
Most people who follow Ariel Pink were introduced to him by 2004's The Doldrums, the first non-Animal Collective release on that band's Paw Tracks label. From the beginning, Pink was presented as an outsider, a recluse who obsessively recorded at home and had compiled hundreds of unheard songs. The notion that he was a supremely strange person making music in his own world was fully supported by the string of albums, singles, and EPs that followed.
Sometimes I like to imagine what Ariel Pink is like on a day off — polishing off a Veggie Delight and sipping a Diet Coke at Subway, maybe watching It’s Complicated on the sofa with his mom. These scenes are utterly hilarious to me, because few artists have worn their outsider status as proudly and boldly as Pink. The erratic live showings (see this performance for Viva Radio), the blusterous remarks about Jewish identity to Heeb magazine, the generally disheveled and outlandish personal style — they’ve all served to mark Pink as too weird, too wonky, too off-center to be lumped in with the fashion-focused, cool-conscious crowd his new album, Before Today, is being marketed to (seriously, do we have to call it chillwave?).
There’s probably nothing I can say about Ariel Pink that hasn’t been said better by Mike Powell, my nomination for Pink biographer should the occasion arise. An early champion of works like The Doldrums and House Arrest by Pink and his imaginary band the Haunted Graffiti, Powell nevertheless grew weary of the seemingly endless array of home-recorded reissues that surfaced after his first appearance on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks imprint. It has been said that Pink has not released any new material since 2004, meaning that his entire sojourn into the spotlight and under the microscope occurred during a time when he wasn’t even writing music (This isn’t entirely true; there was a brief stint in the scatological side projects Holy Shit and Shits and Giggles).
There’s a passage in Bill Drummond’s The 17 where he recalls traveling to Los Angeles in the mid 1980s, ostensibly to oversee the work of a hair metal band in his capacity as an A&R man for WEA. While trying to find the group in a labyrinthian studio complex, Drummond stumbled across a bloated Stevie Nicks, who was dancing eyes-closed to one of her own songs, lost to herself and the world. There are many styles covered on this, the first album by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti since signing to 4AD, but that glassy Fleetwood Mac production, which flourished on Rumours, gloriously saturated their sound on Tusk, and continued to be an obsession for Lindsey Buckingham on later hits such as ‘Big Love’, is glazed all over Before Today.
LA's Ariel Marcus Rosenberg has been active on the US underground since the mid-90s, when he started recording lo-fi albums and handing them out to strangers in the street. Fast forward 15 years or so and the bedroom musician is now part of a band, and the studio no longer consists of just a 4-track. Not that Before Today is polished; its mix of psych-pop, glam rock and white funk creeps out of the speakers as if heard through the fuzz of half-sleep.
A huge wave of advance buzz has preceded the first proper studio album by Ariel Pink, the oddball singer/songwriter who's built up an impressive following through a ridiculously prolific outpouring of lo-fi home recordings. If you've been worried that going pro might sand down all those brilliantly rough edges, have no fear - Pink is as wild-eyed and weird as ever, just with less tape hiss and distortion. [rssbreak] For the uninitiated, Pink's vibe is all about a kaleidoscope of half-remembered music from his childhood, filtered through an LSD-drenched haze.
Ariel Pink calls Before Today his first album. Technically, that’s far from the truth -- he has more than a few collections of songs under his belt, but many of those albums, such as House Arrest, Lover Boy, and Scared Famous, came from a creative burst Pink had in the early 2000s and were issued and reissued well into the decade. During that time, he became the father of chillwave, an entire genre inspired by his mix of ‘70s and ‘80s AM pop touchstones and woozily nostalgic lo-fi production.
A notoriously rudimentary, inchoate home recorder, Ariel Pink has crafted some great pop songs over the course of a litany of obscure album releases. Sadly, they've largely been gems obfuscated in grime, their lo-fidelity a disservice to the brilliant melodic instincts at their core. On Before Today, his 4AD debut, the sonic mire has largely been jettisoned in favor of a cleaner pop sound.
Coco Chanel once said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This concept must seem entirely alien to Ariel Pink (born Ariel Rosenberg), who’s founded his style not simply on the half-ironic repurposing of campy pop tropes, but haphazardly fitting in as many as possible; his songs are tottering sculptures held together with DayGlo shoelaces and hot pink headbands. Scraped clean of the L.A. musician’s forcefully lo-fi aesthetic, Before Today nonetheless keeps up most of his old tricks, jamming pieces of sonic trash together like disparate puzzle pieces.
Every track on this superb album is a winner, each draped in quiet glamour. Kev Kharas 2010 Surely even normal kids growing up in Hollywood must, at times, feel like they're missing out on something – transplant the most mundane memories from your youth to a town 20 car minutes south of those famous cinema hills, with all their fun and iconography, and imagine the envy and frustration that'd rot at your gut whenever you had to spend the night at home alone babysitting. Ariel Pink, aka Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, grew up in Pico-Robertson, a town of aforementioned ilk, and his first memories of pop music came from the radio he'd hear every day driving to Beverley Hills High School.
I’ve recently spent some time compiling the box set of my life. Five discs spanning 33 years, there’s one disc each from the childhood years, pre-adolescence, high school, college, and post-college. Going back and hearing the wide range of styles and artists I loved as a little dude was really eye-opening. After decades of analyzing and trying to understand music, I now think of it in terms of categories and types, each with their special criteria.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti For years now, it’s sounded like Ariel Pink’s been dreaming in shards, his songs like foggy sketches. He has recorded mostly at home, to cassette, one loopy idea after the next, mostly spazzy pop hiding behind the detritus of sonic trial-and-error. Even if he has ….