A rock opera about inner life, 30 years in the making

Ari Samuel immersed himself in studying and performing music from the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey as the violinist for 25 years, diving deeply into new expressions on the violin, as part of a vibrant community. 

During Covid,  with live music events canceled left and right due to the pandemic, Ari rediscovered a treasure trove of songs that he wrote more than three decades ago. Revisiting these songs as a middle-aged adult gave Ari the opportunity to reflect on his youthful creativity. And there was something to these songs -- they were still really good!  

Now, with a lifetime of musical experience and more humility, Ari has produced a rock opera about the inner life called In The Cartoon. It's a journey through the different stages of life: from being in utero, to the innocence of childhood, to being an awkward and introspective adolescent, a horny young adult, from lost love to settling down and getting a job. After a detour to the Land of Rabbits, there is the inevitable period of therapy, the wisdom of old age, and finally passing through the Window of the Sun. 

"In The Cartoon" draws on many of Ari's musical influences such as 60s/70s artists David Bowie, The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, Pink Floyd, psychedelic folk, musical theater, and Balkan and Greek music. As we move through different inner spaces through life, so the rock opera moves through different musical and sonic spaces: theatrical, heartfelt, playful, queer, surreal, introspective, psychedelic, absurd, spiritual... 

Folks who have heard the album have described it as a "journey", an "experience, a "happening" that must be listened to in full, like how albums used to be listened to. 

Ari sings and plays violin, viola, guitar, and other instruments. He is supported by a full band of professional musicians playing instruments including bass, drums, and keyboards ranging from piano, B3, pump organ, and mellotron, to various vintage synths. Additionally, the album features a horn section, backing vocals, pedal steel guitar, stylophone, xylophone, xylophone, and many other sonic colors. The album was recorded in professional studios in Oakland, CA.


In The Cartoon

Ari Samuel

"In The Cartoon" is an epic psychedelic folk rock opera about the inner journey through life, with some surprises. Ari Samuel wrote the songs during his youth, and this album is three decades in the making. He is finally bringing them to life 

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