Monday, October 11, 2010

ariel pink's haunted graffiti 2: "young pilot astray" & "strange fires"

For most all of my life, I relate Autumn to the changing colors of the leaves, the longer periods of darkness, the silencing of the insects, the departure of birds and the crisp air (though as I write this post, it feels oddly like Summer out there still). A welcome sense of introspection sets in my brain that some would be too quick to label Seasonal Affective Disorder. I would beg to differ, and I wouldn't want to experience this time of year anywhere else but where the things listed above occur. So, what on earth does this have to do with the music featured at this post? Who knows, but it makes sense to me, and if you're like me, there are times where you hear a song or an album that seems to synchronize with a certain time or place or experience, and that music forever becomes associated with these things.

LA cult hero musician Ariel Pink's first official album release "The Doldrums" (2004 Paw Tracks) is currently doing the trick for me these past few days. Also known as "Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti", (real name Ariel Rosenberg) the guy's been making and releasing his own musical home recordings in his bedroom since he was a kid, later becoming greatly influenced by goth rock legends like Bauhaus and his favorite band, The Cure. For the hipster kids, Ariel and his music is nothing new, and though I've heard of him and some of his stuff, it wasn't until a recent trip to the library that I took a chance on "The Doldrums". I have to say, upon first listen, I didn't know what to really make of it all. The snarky little critic in me wanted to instantly dismiss this stuff as confused, hippy-dippy stoner muck, and I was ready to promptly set the CD aside to return to the library. Still, there was something about this music that was refreshingly honest, lo-fi, and free. The melodies were extremely catchy and fresh, yet oddly familiar, and many times beautiful sounds unfolded with repeated listens. I liked that I couldn't even pinpoint a genre this guy could fall in - the Beach Boys at their trippiest and most sublime (such as "Strange Fires"), early Cure, Bowie, even Skinny Puppy's Oghr, minus the processed vocals ("Young Pilot Astray") can be heard on this album. Mostly, what I hear is the work of an incredibly creative young individual, bored with the norm, determined to make some noise of his own with the most eager of means. Having made quite a few home recordings with some keyboards and a tape recorder in my own youth, growing up in the suburbs, I can relate some. I haven't heard too much else from the man, or his new band yet, and even though he was recently signed to the excellent 4AD label, releasing a new, cleaner, more accessible sounding record this year, I'm afraid it might not live up to my experience listening to the lo-fi musical magic that is "The Doldrums".