The debut installment of Ariel Archives begins with an expanded version of Underground, Ariel Pink’s first release under the name Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.
Catalyzing Ariel Pink’s great creative burst of 1998 - 2003, Underground signaled a historic series of albums released as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Originally self-released on cassette in 1999, while a 21-year-old undergrad at CalArts, Underground captured the rudimentary brilliance of Ariel’s rapidly evolving music – which in short time shifted from crude proto-Punk experiments to an adventurous home-recording aesthetic that explored a wide continuum of pop music.
This installment of Ariel Archives expands the track-listing of the original Underground release to include twelve additional songs recorded in the same period. Unheard songs such as “Michelle” and “Let’s Stay in the Past” fill in beautiful missing details from Ariel’s earliest recordings, while familiar classics such as “My Molly” are collected for the first time on a full-length release.
The great burst of musical activity that began with Underground provides a narrative that mixes the mundane and the extraordinary, as Ariel developed a preternatural songwriting sense nurtured by a strong desire to escape into the alluring musical worlds he studied keenly as a teen. Born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg in 1978, and raised in the Beverly Glen neighborhood of Beverly Hills, Ariel went to Beverly Hills High School and then UC Santa Cruz for a year before returning to Los Angeles and transferring to CalArts. Ariel was already making music – experimental, primitive home recordings – before he met the fellow CalArts students that became an important coterie of peers and collaborators.
At CalArts, Ariel joined the garage band Bianca and then started performing his own music, with drummer Sandra Edelmen, as The Appleasians. Performances by The Appleasians were unrehearsed and spontaneous, cobbling together early versions of songs that would appear on Underground. Only after Ariel received encouragement from a new fan and friend, a first year music major at CalArts named John Maus, did he begin recording his own music more methodically with an 8-track cassette machine.
Ariel recalls the process: “John loved the simplicity of the chord progressions in my songs and the way my guitar was tuned. He let me record on his retired Tascam 8 track cassette recorder. I’d smoke tons of grass and he would jump on the bass. I did basically two vocals, one harmony one main vocal, two rhythm guitar tracks, and finally the mouth drums would complete the field. I didn't know about bouncing yet. Each song felt like a breakthrough for me.”
Those breakthroughs were collected on a self-published cassette Ariel called Underground, which he released under the name Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Outfitted with photocopied art, Underground included graphics lifted from Amon Düül’s Eternal Flow single with the word “Underground” scotch-taped over the original title. Already versed in the sort of esoteric knowledge exchanged in record stores and fanzines, Ariel injected his musical obsessions into his project with an earnestness that was one-part homage and one-part youthful imitation. Influences evident on Undergroundinclude SPK, Can, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and, behind all of that, The Cure.
Underground appeared in handmade iterations first (on cassette and then CD-R) before a later version on vinyl offered only a sample of the original tracks. The Ariel Archives edition expands the original cassette sequence to include additional music from Ariel’s Underground period. All together these songs reveal an unusual amount of emotional depth for a new songwriter and they anticipate much of the melancholic, rueful ideas that would find their fullest expression on Ariel’s next album, The Doldrums. As a precursor to The Doldrums, Underground remains an unassuming artifact, a favorite among fans but lesser heard among subsequent Haunted Graffiti albums that received wider release.
After Underground and The Doldrums, Ariel would drop out of CalArts to concentrate on music, proceeding to record what would become the albums Scared Famous, FF, Loverboy, House Arrest and Worn Copy, as well as a collaborative album, Stranded at Two Harbors, with Matt Fishbeck as Holy Shit. Ariel Archives revisits this period with comprehensive historical reissues painstakingly retransferred and remastered from the original tapes.
Cycle one of Ariel Archives begins with Underground and Loverboy, plus a new release: the long awaited second volume of uncollected music, Odditties Sodomies Volume 2.