B100: #56 “Round And Round” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Ariel Pink Before Today

A slightly more recent record for my B100 top songs list, with the blissfully washed out pop of “Round And Round” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti.

“Round And Round” is a giddily gleaming song from Ariel Pink’s breakout album “Before Today”, released by 4AD in 2010.  LA based Ariel Pink amassed a wealth of material from the late 90s onwards, self-releasing various early home produced records on cassette, an outdated and quirky format even back then.  A CD-R of his 2003 album “Worn Copy” reached the indie tastemakers Animal Collective, who were suitably taken with its offbeat charms and started to reissue some of Ariel Pink’s previous material on their Paw Tracks imprint.  With a burgeoning cult appeal helped by increasing touring, Ariel Pink then signed to legendary label 4AD.  “Before Today” is his first record produced in a traditional studio, helping to polish his sound but still keeping the off kilter wooziness that made Ariel Pink a pioneer of the then much discussed “hypnagogic pop” sound.  This evocative term was coined by David Keegan in The Wire in 2009 to describe “pop music refracted through the memory of a memory”.

Ariel Pink photo 1

And this description does help to convey the strange indefinable quality of Ariel Pink’s music.  Simon Reynolds, brilliant writer and hypnagogic pop advocate, described Pink’s music as “70s radio-rock and ’80s new wave as if heard through a defective transistor radio, glimmers of melody flickering in and out of the fog”, perfectly capturing that nagging sense of fake nostalgia evoked by Ariel Pink’s best moments.   But none of this pontificating would be anything without great songs, and “Round And Round” is certainly one of those.  A constantly shifting 5 minute pop epic, with introductory na-na-na’s, various bridges and verses interspersed before the pay-off of its stunningly catchy chorus, “Round And Round” does indeed sound like a few complementary songs stitched together, with an intangible feel of long hot LA summer days.  Mind you, I’m writing this just as we’ve experienced the warmest day of the year here in London (32C) so am perfectly in tune with that heat at least.

Ariel Pink photo 2

An eccentric live performer but always fun, there’s a couple of Ariel Pink gigs I’ve been to that prove particularly memorable for wildly different reasons.  Once was in 2012 at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, a venue more renowned for its boxing bills than outsider pop shows – where Ariel Pink didn’t leave the dressing room for the first three songs, instead singing backstage which was projected onto a screen before emerging to prove he was actually there.  This generated mixed reactions from the crowd, always a positive sign for some rock’n’roll thrills.

The first time I saw Ariel Pink, in late November 2010 at the Highbury Garage, was just after “Before Today” had been released and was a suitably enjoyable show, but sticks in the memory for non-musical reasons.  I decided to decline the usual post-gig drinks as I wanted to rush home to watch the first ball (and session) of the 2010/11 Ashes from Australia.  I duly arrived home just in time to see Andrew Strauss out for a duck off the third ball bowled.  Fortunately, events improved for England as they romped to a 3-1 series win over the Aussies (and certainly much better than when I went down under for all 5 Tests in the following 2013/14 Ashes!).



Ariel Pink ticket

Ticket stub from York Hall gig, November 2012

2 thoughts on “B100: #56 “Round And Round” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

  1. Pingback: B100: #55 “Therefore, I Am” by Jim O’Rourke | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

  2. Pingback: Jumping Fences To Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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