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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.
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 Sunset” and “Let’s Build a Campfire There” articulate a longing melancholia with arresting lyrics that blend the juvenile and poetic.
Ariel Pink’s public profile at the time was limited to Los Angeles. 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.
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.
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?