Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti -‘Before Today.’ (4AD)
Last year, an article in The Wire magazine examined the concept of Hypnagogic pop. This has grown out of the US underground and is where 80’s AOR (think Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, (both whom whom have cropped up in The Wire’s Invisible Jukebox feature) or Don Henley) meets a post-noise, shoegazing/dreampop aesthetic. Being DIY, the gloss of the 80s production is chipped, but the scene/movement/journalsits trying to come up with something on a wet afternoon has thrown up some excellent work from the likes of The Emeralds, Neon Indian and Ariel Pink.
Having produced a number of his own records on lo(wer-than-thou-)fi equipment, by his standards this release on long-established independent 4AD marks a coming of age for Ariel Pink. It is, howevere, absolutely flaming fantastic. Despite a bizarre press release that talked of vomiting on marble floors and a promo shot of humans snogging animals that I’d rather live without, quite frankly, this twelve track album is a fantastic listen from start to finish. The Americans coined the term ‘dream-op’ to describe what us Brits described as shoegazing, and it’s particularly accurate on a record like this.
Over the course of forty-five minutes this reveals itself as a record filled with gorgeous pop songs, lo-fi not in the sense of’ deliberately recorded to sound as unpolished a s possible’ but as if remembered ‘as a dream -or a dream of a dream.’ (With apologies to C.S. Lewis). This is an album to lose yourself in and find yourself, and if it sounds painfully seventies to talk of something being a headphone album, there is so much to appreciate and wonder at here, that several listens in, I’ve fallen in love with part of it, and wonder what else I have to discover within.
It’s ironic to think that just over ten years ago we thought there would be nothig to excavate from the eighties, or that it would all be conducted in a painful stream of ‘This is what you listened to because we say so.’ This is no eighties revivalism, but rather an excavation and development as important as the likes of DJ Shadow’s entroducing was to 1996.
Before Today is out now on 4AD.