ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
Observer Music Monthly,, Sunday 22 January 2006
by Simon Reynolds
Ariel Pink is the perfect antidote to the i-Pod. Instead of Radio Me, an onan-i-verse of sound playlisted for an audience of one, Pink’s music recreates the primal scene of the child falling in love with pop for the first time: ear cupped to an imperfectly-tuned transistor, plugged into an otherworldly beyond and wide open to the ravishment of surprise. The illusion is created partly by Pink’s artfully lo-fi production, out of focus and streaked by sudden leaks of colour-saturated noise, and partly by his stylistic disjointedness, the way an incongruous melody will jut into a song like interference from another station’s signal.
This Los Angeles recluse is driven by contradictory impulses that mesh to make sublime noise-pop. The formalist’s love of songcraft and period stylisation (one minute he’s channeling Hall & Oates, the next Blue Oyster Cult) collides with a psychedelic urge to shatter form with kaleidoscopic chaos. As if to signpost the latter, “Trepanated Earth” on last year’s Worn Copy featured a motif from “Eight Miles High” and on House Arrest there’s an actual Byrds sample, a miniscule fragment of “Turn Turn Turn”. Driven by a frazzled riff that recalls the Nazz’s psych classic “Open Your Eyes,” “Getting’ High In the Morning” is a mind-furnace that makes imagery of melted spines, brains dipped in fire, and skin turning to smoke dance before your eyes.
Running through everything on House Arrest-- just one of a horde of albums Pink home-recorded in the early Noughties that are only now getting a proper release--is the man’s religious love for pop. “Hardcore Pops Are Fun” is somewhere between a hymn and a manifesto, its off-the-cuff inanity--“pop music is free/for you and me/pop music’s your wife/have it for life/pop music is wine, it tastes so divine”--masking true devotion.