AFTER taking part in one of NPR’s essential Tiny Desk Concerts last week, which’ve hosted pretty much anyone who’s anyone in indie music, Los Angelino quartet Piel have released the elegant, dreamy, whisper of “Custodian”, which rolls forward on choppy funk guitars and finely-honed crescendos.
To me it sounds like it could have come from the soundtrack to a very elegant Eighties’ film – in one of those scenes in which you pull back to bird’s-eye and see what’s happening across the city with all the protagonists; one caught bereft with smeared ruby-red lips and neon light filtering through French blinds; whereas elsewhere someone is hot-tailing it in a sleek convertible with a pastel paint job. You know what I mean? Darkly classy.
As to the titular custodian? I get the distinct impression that Piel very much invite us to decide for ourselves, but that maybe the lyrics offer a showing-not-telling critique of late-era capitalist greed, a taking back of our wants and desires: “I’m gonna live in this world where everything is free / We don’t own anything / The custodian … Snatch that / Take it back.”
That Tiny Desk session has already made NPR Music’s Best Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Saw list.
Tiki Lewis is the smooth vocal presence at the heart of Piel, and “Custodian” is taken from next month’s A.K.A. Ma, a six-song album largely dedicated to her mother, Thelma, who died in 2019.
The band is completed by guitarist Yegor Mytrofanov; bassist, guitarist, keyboard player and arranger Jonathan Burkes, and drummer Kenny Ramirez. Collectively they cite musical influences such as Joy Division, Sade and Pink Floyd; whereas in the broader scheme their concerns are “nature, turbulence, resilience, injustice, mantras, light and dark”.
Tiki observes of the forthcoming album: “While the bulk of A.K.A. Ma was completed pre-pandemic, divine sources are what guided us through the process, as well as through the dark aftermath of 2020.”
Piel’s A.K.A. Ma will be released digitally, on limited CD and on 180g vinyl by Birs Recordings on December 10th; order yours from Bandcamp, here.