Review: Ariel Pink – Before Today

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Meet Ariel Rosenberg aka Ariel Pink; a Los Angeles musician who prefers a ‘less is more’ approach to production, and experiments with arm-pit generated drum sounds.  You could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow and assigning this record within the categories of ‘difficult’ and ‘not worth the hassle.’  The first track, ‘Hot Body Rub’ bubbles through in a mist of lo-fi saxophones as Ariel Pink punctuates a few bars with undecipherable vocals.  But to go by first impressions would deny you the infectious haze of downright funky pop songs which have just the right edge to keep your attention.  Before Today introduces us to the wonderful, shimmering world of Ariel Pink’s synthesised psychedelia.

The 32 year old has produced nine albums since 2004, but this is the first studio produced album and has certainly aroused interest which extends beyond the reaches of early Ariel Pink fans.  Hailing from The Golden State of California, you can actually feel the heat of the sun radiating through every note of this record.  The highlight among many is ‘Beverly Kills’; transplanting the listener into the passenger seat of a car cruising alongside the neon lights of a not-so-glamorous Los Angeles. The disaffected lyrics compete against police sirens and fuzzy radio babble, all set against a relentlessly funked-up bassline.

Some songs initially pass for filler amongst radio-friendly tracks, but once you have been caught by ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’ and ‘Fright Night’, you’ll come round to the quirkier bites on offer (see ‘Little Wig’).   ‘Menopause Man’ bounces along innocently enough, only to delight with explicit lyrics, “Make me maternal, fertile woman / Make me menstrual, menopause man.”  Ariel Pink has admitted in interview with Nerve.com, “I’d love to make music for porn.  I’d like to be in porn.”  The throbbing undertone rippling throughout the record would happily corroborate this claim, but exactly what sub-genre of pornography Pink is aiming for is an area perhaps best left alone.

Before Today is a multi-layered soundscape, filled to the brim with cartoonishly retro echoes of the past music and culture.  Pink has cited influences ranging from Michael Jackson to David Bowie.  Give this distinctly lo-fi take on sunshine disco-pop a go. This is my first encounter with Ariel Pink and I’m eager for more.  Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is currently on tour and playing London’s Relentless Garage, November 1 2010.

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