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"CD Review: Withdrawn-Sean Smith"

"With atmospheric keyboards and crunching, anthemic guitars in the best 80's tradition-plus the fact that lead singer Ali Jafri sounds distinctly like Robert Smith on "If Only You Knew" and "Vanilla"-it is tempting to call Ariel retro. The fact that they are not afraid to sing in Urdu or play the djembe takes them very much into the 90's. Withdrawn is a well orchestrated album with atmosphere, power, strength and strong musicianship. The vast and expansive instrumentation mixes well with the Jafri's vocals to demonstrate that Ariel is a band to watch for..."
-Sean Smith, Ottawa X Press (Ottawa, CANADA) - Ottawa Xpress

"CD Review: Big To The Sky-Liisa Ladouceur"

World influences fuse with a new wave foundation throughout, most notably on the psychedelic instrumental "Turmeric" and the Urdu protest song "Tumharay Liyeh". A positive step forward...
-Liisa Ladouceur, Eye Weekly (Toronto, CANADA) - Eye Weekly: Toronto

"Live Review-Kieran Green"

The highlight of the evening without question was Ariel. Throw ambient gothic, electro-industrial, Middle-Eastern and West African styles into a pot, add a generous dash of The Cure, and you have Ariel. You never know where this band will take you.
Ariel's second piece of the evening, an accoustic which the band had reworked to include sitar, was simply mind-blowing. It was a shame that time restrictions forced Ariel to cut their set short.
-Kieran Green - Imprint (CANADA)

"Live Review-Dan Morreale"

Along with the lamp, the band lights candles to make the live experience an even better one. To truly get the feel for a band you would have to see them live. However, sitting in your basement and lighting candles among other things could create a good enough atmosphere for Ariel to enter the sound waves.
-Dan Morreale
(Hamilton, CANADA)

- The Secondary Press

"CD Review: Big To The Sky-Vendetta"

"...the incorporation of some very tasty and trippy middle eastern soundscapes gives this Toronto via Ottawa group a unique edge."
-Vendetta - Vendetta (USA)

"CD Review: Big To The Sky-Karen LaRocca"

Ariel evoke haunting mirages through their latest collection of songs, "Big to the Sky". Propulsive eastern grooves-defined by sitar and world percussion instruments-along with dynamic, ornate arrangements shape the group's textured (mostly) guitar based pop. And thought they retain the moody drama that often gets the five-piece tagged, erroneously, as goth, Ariel is as focused on what they say as how they present it."
-Karen LaRocca - Capital City (Canada)

"Live Review-Matt Mernagh"

Ottawa's Ariel use drums, a variety of string instruments including sitar, and keyboards to create their sensual attack, and the Cure's Robert Smith would kill to have the voice of Ariel's lead singer.
-Matt Mernagh, Exclaim (Toronto, CANADA) - Exclaim (CANADA)

"CD Review: Big To The Sky-Ben Rayner"

...the five-piece has left behind its beginnings as competent yet decidedly Cure-ish dirge-rockers and taken on a more ambitious, artfully grand Eastern-Flavoured sound."
-Ben Rayner - Ottawa Sun (CANADA)

"Live Review-Suzanne Andrew"

Incense wafts off the stage and Ariel begins playing in the candelabra glow. Layers of drums, guitars, keyboards, and, more interestingly, tablas, a djembe and a sitar blend uniquely, while frontman Ali Jafri sings, mostly in English, with an occasional song in Urdu. I've been following Ariel since the band began performing in the mid 90's and it's one of my favorite local live acts. Experts at creating the perfect measure of gothic ambiance in any venue without devolving into camp, the band continues to finesse its sound adding new dynamics, and to my enchantment, more drums. This is Ariel's second live performance with Yakudo, Japanese Taiko drummers who jump into the fray about halfway through the set and take the sound into an even more satisfyingly eclectic dimension. Dramatically synchronized, the Taiko drummers are mesmerizing. The addition of traditional Japanese drums to Ariel's already unusual goth/industrial/South-East Asian combination builds into this huge tableau of sound. . . and suddenly stops - leaving me disappointed in the subdued Tuesday night crowd when there's no encore. With new keyboardist Glenn Love clearly adding new energy to the tight-knit group and work on a new album underway, watch for more from Ariel later this year.
-Review by Suzanne Andrew
(Freelance Writer) -


Looks Like Rain: cassette (1995)
Withdrawn: CD (1997)
Various Artists: Some Candy Talking (Tribute to the Jesus and Mary Chain)
Various Artists: News From Nowhere (featuring Plan Eleven artists, Roger O'Donnel of the Cure, An April March, Parade...)
Big To The Sky: CD (1999)
Sublunar: CD (coming 2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Emotionally resonant, awash with middle-eastern mysticism and a dreamy, dangerous sensuality, Canada's ARIEL continue to evolve as both a band and a musical aesthetic. Formed in the early half of 1995, ARIEL's unique sound and ideals was the product of vocalist/guitarist Ali Jafri and bass player Peter Emmett's shared interest in film, music, literature and spirituality. Late night discussions on philosophy and art would lead to smokey candle lit jams resulting in their first album, the independent cassette "Looks Like Rain" - a critically acclaimed release that landed the young band a spot on stage at Lollapalooza '95, at that point only their fourth official gig adding percussionist/key- boardist Laird Hurley to the lineup.

The following year Jafri and Emmett connected with drummer Dan Gamble, relocating from Ottawa to the competitive cutthroat streets of Toronto and in no time getting the attention of local ambient/darkwave indie label Plan Eleven (Parade, Roger O'Donnell formerly of the Cure). Their first release on the Plan Eleven imprint was the haunting, epic WITHDRAWN, a disc that not only garnered rave reviews, extensive college radio airplay and chart action, but also firmly locked in a near obsessive Canadian fan base. ARIEL with their powerful performances broke barriers and became the darlings of the thriving late 90's Toronto Indie, Rock, and Goth scenes, thus leading to high profile performances with David J of BAUHAUS fame, King Cobb Steelie at NXNE (industry festival and conference), and with Manchester UK's highly influential Chameleons UK.

During this time, songwriter and unofficial leader Jafri began getting deeper in touch with his Pakistani/Sufi heritage and started experimenting with tablas, frame drums and lyrics penned in his native Urdu. This further exploration of Jafri's eastern roots, inspired a more dramatic response in the band, resulting in ARIEL's second, soaring, expansive album BIG TO THE SKY. This intense, mini masterpiece of emotional dissonance and world music/modern rock fusion further secured the bands status as true musical innovators.... artists masquerading as rock stars.

It's 2007, and ARIEL are now older and wiser. Jafri and Hurley are now both proud fathers and as the band continues to progress and thrive, they find themselves responding musically to not only their changing personal and artistic lives but the ever-evolving socio- political world that surround them. These are highly charged, dangerous times and this newfound maturity, cynical awareness and sharper world view is reflected in their upcoming, highly anticipated new EP SUBLUNAR, a 4 track CD co-produced by the legendary Rob Sanzo (Dee Dee ramone, Rhea's Obsession, Malhavoc). SUBLUNAR features guest performances by Ed Hanley (autorickshaw) on tabla, Yakudo Japanese Taiko Drummers, and a cover illustration by bizarre visual artist Brandon Cronenberg. Masterdisk's Roger Lian of New York City has put the cherry on top as the celebrated mastering engineer (Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, Rob Zombie) has finished the job.

Keep your eyes and ears open for news on a CD release, and a video release. Young director Brandon Cronenberg (son of acclaimed director David Cronenberg) cuts his teeth on the new ARIEL video for the song "Empty House", the lead of track for the upcoming EP SUBLUNAR to be released later this year.