Scared Famous – Aeriel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – (Original unreleased 2002 version)
Not to be confused with the later song collection bearing the same name released by Human Ear Music, or the later (identically titled) CD-R, we refer here to the track listing for the 2002 cassette, which was coupled with FF>>, and never released through a label. This collection finds Ariel Pink (using the spelling "Aerial" at this point) in his early (and consequently, most “lo-fi”, if we must use the term) era of composing and recording. This edition to Ariel Pink's work is a fascinating peek into not only where he was as an artist in this comparatively early stage, but also where he would be going on more fleshed-out, ensuing albums.*
Start with: ”Baby Comes Around”, “Something Isn’t Something”, and “Express, Confess, Cover Up”.
Why it’s worth revisiting: Besides providing a glimpse into early Ariel Pink material that is rewarding in its own rite, this collection is especially notable for the significant number of covers, as well as collaborations with and nods to one of Ariel’s key influences, R. Stevie Moore. Much of this material would later surface in later versions and releases, including the R Stevie Moore/Ariel Pink collaborative album, Ku Klux Glam, and the revamped Human Ear release with the same title as this release.
The off-kilter folk pop of "Baby Comes Around" leads off the album. For those uninitiated in the sonic world of Ariel Pink, the fist several seconds of the song are no doubt jarring. The distorted and muddy sonic backdrop are certainly not characteristic of typical records of the era in general, though highly characteristic of Ariel Pink’s work at the time. Interestingly, however, the atmosphere and unapologetically catchy melody triumph before long, allowing the listener to embrace the song on its own terms. Short and sweet, the track defies dislike.
The second song on the album is Ariel’s take on the Centimeters’ "The Facts of Destiny". This incarnation of the song is loyal enough to the original to retain its essential appeal, while distinct enough to justify the revamp. Covers like this provide an especially effect glimpse into AP's style, since there is something externally to reference and with which to contrast.
The dreamlike guitar wash of"Privacy" precedes the falsetto folk of "Passing the Petal 2 You". The hooky "Beverly Kills (Freaks with Golden Heirs)" makes for interesting listening, and appears with a makeover on the later Haunted Graffiti release, Before Today. This earlier version, though, is of value on its own merits. "Why Can't I Be Me?" has a drifting feel about it, but certainly succeeds in creating an atmosphere that is Pink’s alone. The laidback "Something Isn't Something" is an album standout, and certainly one of the most inviting songs in this collection. "Express, Confess, Cover-Up" finds Ariel teaming up with the “Godfather of Modern Home Recording” himself, R. Stevie Moore. The collaboration yields likeable and unusual results. What seems like an accessible enough pop/folk song yields before long to a lengthy synth-based instrumental for the remainder of the seven and a half minute recording.
These two kindred souls collaborate again on what is credited as an RSM arrangement of "Birds in My Tree" by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. The former, more up-tempo version is faithful to the original, yet has no problem blending with the Pink’s original material. The second of three successive covers, the slightly retitled "Shedon'tknowWhattodowithherself" is Ariel’s take on “She Don’t Know What to Do With Herself” from Stevie’s classic Phonography album, while "Moya" is a cover of a Southern Death Cult song. "SteviePink" is an effective and playful collaboration that the two would revisit, as they would with the solo Ariel track, "R. Stevie's Brain".
"Spiers in the Snow" is an example of Ariel’s unique melodic approach already in place, "I Wanna Be Young" (composed and sung by a young Ariel Pink) impresses, and "Gopacapulco" is standard Ariel Pink because it is in all ways anything but standard as it hops from folk-inspired melodies from afar to snippets of pop and synthpop songs you may or may not have heard before, creating a dreamlike sense of confusion. "Scared Famous" dips its toe into rockier territory before concluding with the extended "Deathcrush 99", which straddles territory between collage and song with its unique wash of overlapping percussion, guitars, and vocals.
Happy listening, weirdos!
*We’ll look at some of the tracks in this collection in greater detail as they appear later on some of our other favorite albums. Additionally, while every effort has been made to keep this group of recording distinct from later appearances and incarnations, there is limited overlap in audio examples, etc.