Album Premiere: 'Before Today' by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Here are a few historic firsts for you. Next Tuesday, L.A.-based musician Ariel Pink and his band Haunted Graffiti will issue a new album, "Before Today," which he calls his first record (despite much evidence to the contrary). The release is their first for the 4AD label after a decade spent releasing obscure CDs, records and cassettes on countless bedroom labels (including Animal Collective's Paw Tracks imprint).
Pink's forthcoming album also constitutes another historical marker: for the first time, The Times will be offering an exclusive stream of a full-length album in advance of its official release. For the next week, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's "Before Today" will be playable in its entirety in the embed below, as well as on our music home page.
Don't know Pink? Writer Simon Reynolds, author of the tome, "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984" and "Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture," among others, has penned a profile of Pink that will be published in next Sunday's L.A. Times.
What's odd about Ariel Pink is that the lo-fi, mumbly-vocal DIY tradition that his early music belonged to was originally vehemently opposed to the slick, big-budget AOR and '80s rock 'n soul that he's so inspired by. Hall & Oates are a perennial touchstone, while on "Before Today" you can hear Blue Oyster Cult circa "Don't Fear the Reaper" in "Butt-House Blondies" and the Police circa "Every Breath You Take" in "Round and Round".
More often, though, the echoes are less specific, his music like a puree of jumbled-up eras. Born in 1978, Pink belongs to the post-historical generation, shaped by the endless shuffle-mode of VH1 and classic rock radio, and, more recently, iPod and YouTube. "We have no concept of time," he says, talking of how some people in his generation "who like Sixties music, they live there forever."
On Pink's influence in the underground, Reynolds continues:
Pink's signature sound -- the collision of exquisitely melodic songcraft influenced by '80s mainstream pop with the loose ends and reverb-haze of lo-fi indie -- has been forged widely in the last several years. He's the godfather of the blog-buzz propelled genre known as chillwave, whose dreamy legion includes Neon Indian, Tory y Moi, Tape Deck Mountain, Washed Out, and dozens more. "I know I've left my mark already," Pink says, proudly. "I know when somebody's heard my music. I can hear it in their music."
Then he admits he doesn't really like any of the bands he's influenced, apart from a few that involve his friends and associates, like L.A.-based Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez, the wife of his former guitarist Cole Marsden Greif-Neill).
One of the many revelations in the piece is that fact that for however prolific Pink seems to have been since those first discs started trickling out in the early 2000s, the singer hasn't made much new music in the past five years. It's mostly been reissues of much older music. In fact, Reynolds writes that Pink "insists that 'Before Today' is 'the first album.' Not only is it his debut for a big-deal label (the famous 4AD), it's 'the first record I've made with any kind of thought or consciousness that I have an audience.' "
Listen below to "Before Today," the new album by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, and check Sunday's Times to read Reynolds' profile.
-- Randall Roberts
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