Ariel Pink's 'Witchhunt Suite' drops a decade after its recording


A decade ago, in the immediate aftermath of Al Qaeda terrorists commandeering passenger airplanes and piloting them into New York City skyscrapers, an unknown young musician cut a 17-minute-long, eerily prescient song in his bedroom, somewhere in the wilds of California. 

This uncouth, possibly manic spazz didn't do anything with that for a while, for a good many years, until after he'd become reasonably Internet famous - at which time he put the song out on a tour-only release that no one heard.

[jump] Then, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Ariel "Pink" Rosenberg cashed in. Below, behold the glory that is "Witch Hunt Suite for World III," or go to iTunes and buy it for $1.99, like I did yesterday morning before work; note that in iTunes this song is known as "Witchhunt Suite." (This was kind of special, because it marks the first time I spent actual money for Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti music.) 

If you've spent any time with Worn Copy, you're aware that Rosenberg is capable of writing sprawling, unwieldy prog-pop opuses capable of scaring the spots off of a Dalmatian. This new old song is in that vein; it's a fucking mess. Given that, Gimme Noise opted to approach "Witch Hunt" (or "Witchhunt") in a very special, very unprecedented way that we think you'll really enjoy

00:00 So I'm less bothered by the fact that the iTunes accompanying art for this song boasts a TV image grab of a vaguely familiar black celebrity - white artists have done this forever as some sort of ironic gesture, won't stop anytime soon, I'm over it - than by the fact that I know I should know who the guy is, but I just can't put my finger on where I've seen him before (is he the soccer player bad guy from Cliffhanger?) and also the fact that that glancingly sinister grin puts me in mind of a certain underutilized, Marc Silvestri-illustrated villain from Marvel Comics mythology.

01:06 The ambiance here: a cross between the opening scene in a Western and the introduction to a drug-addled space rock album, complete with taped-off-of-television George W. Bush bluster. No-one will agree with me, but the feel of "Witchhunt" at this point is oddly reminiscent of pre-2002 Godspeed You Black Emperor!, where it was like somebody's sent an unlabeled envelope back from the future with a cracked cassette inside full of ill omens and crushing portents; something awful's about to go down, you just know it.

02:35 Nothing says "the terrorists have won" like a superfluously pro forma '80s horn break.

05:03 Oh, snap. It's like the synthesizers are right in front of you! And then they're over there, and then they're over here but almost translucent, and then they're right back like an inch away from you? And the cycle repeats.

06:30 This is pretty much why smoke machines and apostle robes were invented. Then it turns into Genesis, or Phil Collins, or maybe Peter Gabriel, until it trans-mutates into some sorta madcap Hella/Ruins hybrid. Yeah, me neither.

07:26 What does Rosenberg know that we don't know? Do horn charts make the Taliban break out in hives or something?

11:46 When he wasn't glued to CNN on that most fateful of days, our host was splitting his attention between hallowed Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches, blaxploitation flicks, and terrible hip-hop friendly McDonald's commercials.

12:30 "Gonna get him, we got him! Gonna get him, we got him!" Seriously, this is all so goofy that it makes me wish George Soros would front somebody a couple million dollars to write and shoot a Rosenberg-conceptualized 9/11 Hogan's Heroes or something, with this song as the score, staring Andrew W.K. and Johnny Knoxville. Kind of a Southland Tales-meets-Once Upon A Time In Mexico sorta deal. Something subtle.

16:20 Aw! The Star-Spangled Banner! It's like he's staring blankly at us, waving goodbye, waving a tiny American flag, but then when you get really close you notice that all the little stars are little Dubya faces, and in each case Dubya is fellating a sex toy.

"Like" Gimme Noise on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @gimme_noise.