As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Ariel Pink.
There exists a time — or so those of a certain generation have been known to acknowledge — where the idea of instant musical gratification was as simple as turning on the A.M. radio and carelessly listening to a world of creativity flowing from one’s speakers. No need for mixtapes, crate digging, or underground zines espousing wisdom; a time when the genius of Brian Wilson, the craftsmanship of John Lennon, and the daring of Frank Zappa could co-exist in a radio atmosphere heavy with Fogelbergs, Breads, Grease interludes, and any sappy pop-rock dance fad infiltrating even the staunchest of regions.
Before Today, the latest from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, is not the first time Pink has tapped into this bygone era of legend. It’s not the first time the music press has fawned over his ease to crank out these well-aged, and somehow ageless, pop gems that feed on every genre made public domain. However, Before Today may be Ariel Pink’s most realized effort in combining dusty gems and forgotten fads without a hint of cynicism.
Once again relying on heroes such as R. Stevie Moore, Mark Tucker, and Gary Wilson, Ariel Pink continues to prove the heir to a throne that may have never existed until he began cranking out lo-fi ear candy at the turn of the century. Before Today hints at a 80s scene that never existed thanks to the deterioration of the Land of Musical Nod once promised. The production mimics early 80s English breakthroughs as the melodies bask in the warm smoggy glow of late 60s California, with the occasional dips in 70s psychedelia, 80s dance, and 90s shoegaze. The confidence 4AD has shown in Pink’s ability to touch a part of everyone’s life is well rewarded throughout Before Today. No longer will you need to rely on the dregs of the corporate radio cycle, hoping that something fresh will be slipped into the neutered pop rock playlist. Before Today is the only jam you need; break off the radio knobs, glue the CD/MP3 player port shut, and tape down the repeat button.