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Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Witchhunt Suite for WWIII EP review

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti gained a fair amount of attention with their wonderful 2010 release, Before Today, which sounds simultaneously fresh and familiar.  Pink has a knack for bringing the past into the present, and the result is something that is both poppy and ethereal.  Unlike some of his more popular work, Witchhunt Suite for WWIII is less like an EP and more like one long, convoluted song that is infused with samples of both a political and historical nature.

Witchhunt serves as a social commentary, a bleak view of the future, and, fortunately for us, a very entertaining recording.  Ariel Pink is the moniker of Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, whose nostalgic and often beautiful sound can best be described as a New Wave revivalist with obvious psychedelic and gothic overtones.  Pink also released a video to accompany the EP, which is equally as oracular and intensifies his message.

Pink started creating Witchhunt shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and in the opening lines you can hear an audio sample of former President George W. advocating the war on terror and subsequently promising the imminent capture of Bin Laden.  There is a school of thought that believes that artists- whether they are musicians, actors, painters, etc. – should stick to their craft and stay out of politics and socio-economic issues because, at best, they only succeed in muddying the waters. However, it’s Pink’s subtle use of wit, persuasion and alliteration that make this a much more potent piece.

One could literally write an entire essay pertaining to the variety of references and implications that are included throughout Witchhunt.  A few that need mention are: Pink’s murmuring critiques of McDonalds, the implication that the human race is an invention of the West, the global domination of the U.S., and the whole idea of terrorism and how it relates to one’s perception.

Witchhunt can be seen in two different ways: as an entertaining one-off piece, or as a poignant social commentary that also happens to be a solid recording. While the EP is very catchy, it may be a bit disconcerting that the entire recording is one song that clocks in at a little under 16 minutes. There’s definitely a lot to take in, especially with the amount of time that’s given. While Witchhunt isn’t as groundbreaking or as accessible as Before Today, it’s still a very interesting, entertaining, and original piece.

By Brad Smith

"Did I listen to music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to music?"

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