Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2 / Underground / LoverboyOctober 25, 2019 Mexican Summer
About the Vinyl:
- LPs housed with Obi-Strips and Printed Inner sleeves
- Includes Download Card
- Pressed at Record Technology, Inc.
- Original Art Design by Ariel Pink
- The Kitchen Club Vinyl Bundle offers exclusive and limited color editions of each of the ten albums being issued in four cycles over the course of 2019 and 2020
Mexican Summer presents Ariel Archives.
Ariel Archives is a comprehensive series of reissues and retrospective collections concentrating on the treasure trove of material recorded and released by Ariel Pink as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.
Ariel Archives will include definitive reissues of Ariel Pink’s albums released between 1999 and 2004: Underground, The Doldrums, House Arrest, Loverboy, Scared Famous, and Worn Copy. Surplus material from this period to the present day will be highlighted in two new volumes of collected outtakes and non-album tracks, Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2 and Vol. 3., plus a new edition of Odditties Sodomies Vol. 1. Ariel Archives will complete this retrospective project with the first-ever vinyl release of Stranded at Two Harbors (the debut Holy Shit album co-written by Matt Fishbeck and Ariel Pink) and a new collection of Ariel Pink’s singles and tour-only CD-Rs released in the last decade.
Ariel Pink’s historic run of releases as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti unfolded in Los Angeles while Ariel was in his early twenties. 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 transferring to CalArts, a reputable art school in Valencia just north of Los Angeles. Ariel departed CalArts early however to concentrate on music: he presented his early masterpiece The Doldrums as a senior thesis project and then left without a degree. Following The Doldrums, and its rudimentary predecessor Underground, Ariel Pink released a half-dozen more albums that culminated in Worn Copy, the last album before Arie’s five-year hiatus from releasing new music.
Ariel Archives makes an effort to reckon with the remarkable volume of outstanding music Ariel Pink made during this time. Rapidly evolving from crude proto-Punk experiments to an adventurous home-recording aesthetic that explored a wide continuum of Pop music, Ariel Pink developed a sound and image that would prove highly inventive and hugely influential. Early recordings by Ariel Pink mined his musical obsessions. Underground, for example, fused basic elements from Krautrock, post-Punk, and Industrial / Goth music. But soon these expressions of homage and youthful imitation lead Ariel Pink into a deep creative rabbit hole that became the genesis of the Haunted Graffiti catalogue of music.
In the new liner notes for Underground, writer Hedi El Kholti quotes Ariel Pink’s description of Haunted Graffiti’s music as a mystery that’s being rolled out. Indeed, mystery, and a sense of music with unknown origins, is evoked throughout Ariel Pink’s self-recorded music, which he performed mostly himself or with contributions from a circle of tight-knit friends and collaborators. Rejecting a uniform style or a singular artistic “identity”, Ariel’s music insteads experiments with multivalence, a pluralist quality embracing numerous voices, personas, and musical genres. Aside from the expressive results so much range provides, there is also a metaphorical or thematic effect. This is the most striking aspect of Ariel Pink’s music and it’s also the hardest to describe: familiar melodies, songwriting tropes and deliberate clichés nevertheless express a genuine, poignant aesthetic. Perhaps the essence of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is something like the sound of living a life through pop music, a sound that cycles through the form’s many contrasting manifestations, whether comic, absurd, ugly or beautiful.
Releases in the Ariel Archives series will be expanded to contain much of the original material left off prior reissues that were made available in the mid-2000s and are now out of print. The first installment begins with Underground, (the inaugural album in the original Haunted Graffiti series), Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2, (a long-awaited second volume of outtakes and non-album tracks), and finally Loverboy, an exemplary disc recorded between October 2001 and July 2002, at which time Ariel also recorded House Arrest. Releases in Ariel Archives will not follow a chronological sequence, though the first installment starts at the beginning with Underground.
Underground remains an essential artifact of Ariel Pink’s early music, a favorite among fans but lesser heard among subsequent Haunted Graffiti albums that received wider release. As a collection of early recordings made while Ariel Pink was a student at CalArts they present Ariel Pink’s music in its most raw, protean form. (Ariel had made experimental home recordings earlier, during highschool, but this early noise-oriented style was mostly shelved for the melodically-driven songs Ariel conceived while at CalArts.) Underground was recorded between 1998 – 1999 using a borrowed 8-track Tascam machine from John Maus, a freshman music major who struck up a friendship with Ariel after seeing Ariel’s ramshackle band The Appleassians perform a spontaneous set of Ariel’s songs at college speakeasy event. Maus encouraged Ariel to record these songs and thus began Ariel’s exploration of the limitations and liberations of the 8-track cassette machine.
Ariel Pink released Underground in traditional DIY fashion with a stereo-dubbed cassette and a photocopied insert that lifted graphics from an Amon Düül 7”. It was handed out to friends and announced Ariel Pink’s identification with the leftfield canon of rock and New Wave. “I wanted Underground to be a musical equivalent to Lester Bang’s book, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung,” Ariel recalls in the liner notes. Underground was followed by The Doldrums, a sudden and unexpected development that seemed years ahead of the breakthroughs chronicled on Underground.
Ariel had acquired his own 8-track machine, the Yamaha MT8X-8, and no longer depended on Maus’s Tascam. The Yamaha boasted even worse fidelity, squashing mid-range frequencies without the helpful aide of Tascam’s switch filter. Songs on The Doldrums shared Underground’s youthful desire to escape, if not physically than spiritually, into the alluring worlds promised by Ariel’s musical obsessions. This spirit of teenage angst and boredom are but a few themes inhabiting the Haunted Graffiti albums. Recorded during a sleepier era in Ariel’s native Los Angeles, it’s easy to hear The Doldrums as a response to a feeling of under-stimulation or malaise, a mood that had been angrily mined by Gen X in the 1990s but which Ariel treated with some ironic distance. Songs like “Gray Sunsets” and “Let’s Build a Campfire There” articulate a longing melancholia with arresting lyrics that blend the juvenile and poetic.
If The Doldrums suggested Ariel Pink’s music had matured rapidly, then the spate of next albums showed just how much range and experimentation Ariel could squeeze into 8 tracks of a cassette machine. The next albums Ariel recorded – Scared Famous / FF, Loverboy and House Arrest – are worlds unto themselves but they generally showed a wider use of synthesizers and a strange ability to generate unusual sounds from conventional instruments, largely through the constraints of the Yamaha 8-track. Ariel had also developed a new friend and mentor with whom he struck up an important creative exchange: R. Stevie Moore. A home-recording wizard himself, Moore’s omnivorous appetite for all types of Pop music and his unselfconscious musical persona inspired Ariel to maintain course.
Ariel Pink’s public profile at the time was limited to Los Angeles. There were shows in the alternative spaces such as those he played while at CalArts and, in 2002, Ariel performed opening slots for his CalArts friend Jason Falkner at The Troubadour and a few months later he opened for the Lilys at the Echo. It wasn’t until 2004, after Ariel Pink’s music began reaching wider audiences through releases on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label that he began touring the U.S. in support of The Doldrums, House Arrest and Worn Copy. Live reviews from the tour mention Ariel changing the format and feel of the show night by night. A fan attending the Bennington show in April 2005 is quoted in the local paper, the Bennington Banner, as calling Ariel’s music “New Wave from Hell played in a room full of mirrors.” (The astute fan had driven down from Amherst where he saw Ariel play an entirely different set of music the night before).
Oddly, albums such as The Doldrums, Worn Copy and House Arrest were not widely embraced initially, though their inventiveness and strange beauty was usually recognized by reviewers, if not begrudgingly. Critical opinion was divided: Ariel Pink was either a self-indulgent “weirdo” or a Pop music genius. Responding to the original press-release for Worn Copy, reviewers echoed its bafflement: Did he really made those drum sounds with his mouth? There was also a sense that Ariel Pink’s new cult-ish fan base would elevate him to the status of a rock star. Critics didn’t seem to like it.
But Ariel was smitten with the surprising success of his music. He was quoted in an A.V. Club article in April 2005: “I’m a music dork. I grew up with MTV and all that shit. I’ve worked at record stores. I’m the equivalent of a Jeopardy nerd or a Trekkie, but with rock ‘n’ roll. I eat everything up, man. I used to write lists, all through high school, and eventually I just kind of joined the list. It’s worked out better than I imagined. To do The Doldrums and think that it’s competing in a marketplace with, like, Modest Mouse–it’s perverse. It’s wonderful.”
Ariel Archives looks back to this torrent of activity with the objective of uncovering even more mystifying music. Ariel Pink’s own tape archive is fortunately well preserved: extant tapes for the original albums have been retransferred and remastered for the project. Additional tracks recorded contemporaneously expand several releases in the Ariel Archives series, following not a facsimile formula but one that is faithful to Ariel’s own adaptive approach to sequencing. (Track-listings for the original cassette versions of the Haunted Graffiti albums differed from their subsequent CD-R and Compact Disc versions. Likewise, some of the albums were condensed considerably when they were first issued on vinyl. Releases in the Ariel Archives series are expanded from the 1st generation sequence when possible.)
The classic Haunted Graffiti records that form the centerpiece of Ariel Archives will sound better than ever. This doesn’t mean the low-fidelity elements of Ariel’s music have been sterilized or muted of course, but rather the hidden subtleties buried in the original sources have been clarified and restored for posterity. The music remains in-the-red, beamed in from whatever future or past Ariel had placed as a setting for his grand experiment. Worn Copy, for example, Ariel’s concluding opus from this early prolific period, sounds more lucid than ever, like an electrifying fever dream unfolding from a disturbed musical consciousness.
Ariel Pink’s music became hugely influential in the years since these albums appeared, providing sprawling reference points for numerous artists who embraced idiosyncrasy or limited recording means as a default position. After Ariel’s return, in 2008, to recording and releasing music more frequently, he signed to 4AD and issued two more albums as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (Before Today in 2010 and Mature Themes in 2012) before “disbanding” the name and releasing pom pom as a solo-artist in 2014. In 2017, Ariel released his first album on Mexican Summer, the full-length titled Dedicated to Bobby Jameson. Ariel conceived the record as a tribute to the tragic life and lost music of Los Angeles-based songwriter Bobby Jameson, who Ariel viewed as a spiritual and creative predecessor. Several songs appearing on Ariel Archives, such as “Bolivian Soldier” and “Stray Here With You”, (featured on Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2), were recorded as recently as 2017 -’18, shortly after Ariel had excised Mr. Jameson’s story from his system.
In total Ariel Archives will include six definitive reissues of key Haunted Graffiti albums: Underground, The Doldrums, Loverboy, House Arrest, Scared Famous and Worn Copy. Two new volumes of Odditties Sodomies will appear along with a new edition of Vol. 1, previously out-of-print. Ariel Pink and Matt Fishbeck’s co-written album as Holy Shit, the laid back and tuneful Stranded at Two Harbors, will be released for the first time on vinyl. There will also be a new standalone collection drawn from Ariel Pink’s non-album singles and CD-Rs.
Twenty years on, Ariel’s music still stupefies. The quantity of ideas and moods expressed through a modest recording enterprise seems supernatural, not human. Indeed, Hedi El Kohlti, in his superb new liner notes for Underground, compares Ariel’s explosive creative period between 1998 and 2004 to a character in Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly who has all of 20th century modern art beamed into his brain at flash cut speed. Did Ariel Pink, at the age of 20, receive a similar instantaneous “download” of all of the secrets of Pop music?
The answer is more mundane but no less intriguing. Record stores, MTV, notebook lists of favorite bands, albums, and songs — it was all hardwired into Ariel’s brain in such a way as to become instantly retrievable when the songs first started appearing in his head. This great flux of references, of various modes of being and infinite musical identities existing at once, help explain the sound of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. But Ariel Archives is also about the songs, many of which are now classics of the period: “Life in L.A.”, “Among Dreams”, “Envelopes Another Day”, “Getting High in the Morning” and hundreds more. We hear them now as Ariel Pink first heard them: clear, fully-formed and arriving uncannily without explanation.
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