Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Fri Nov 5
1001 SE Morrison

FIRST THING you need to know about Ariel Pink's music is it doesn't sound much like music at all. It's more like City Liquidators commercials heard from the bottom of a pool, or R&B playing through the wall next door. It's muffled, buried beneath warbles of TV samples and dream sequence sound effects.

The Doldrums is Ariel's new CD for the Animal Collective's label Paw Tracks. He's from LA, and the record sounds like it was recorded there--maybe in a studio apartment overlooking Melrose, with the muted swoosh of traffic noise sitting low in the mix.

You can almost see Ariel on his bedroom floor, moaning into a Tascam mic, then laying down Casiotone chords over guitar strums, even though--I'm guessing--he doesn't know how to play either one. It's layer upon layer of goof-sound, junkyarded together in a big, epic, dreamy collage of junky nods and giggly fever dreams.

The first song off The Doldrums sounds like the Flaming Lips at the wrong speed--slow, glubby vocals crooning while twice-sampled, refried symphony strings lilt and swoon. The second track is wildly off-key and jumbled together with beatbox buhdunks, tape hiss, and indecipherable Muppet voice falsetto.

And even past those opening tracks, it's a great, cohesive, head-trip of an album--and an empowering one. The best thing about records like The Doldrums is anyone can make them. Like early punk, it's easy and fun. Don't know your scales? Only have a toy piano and bongos? Even better! Get crazy! All you need is a bent sense of creativity and a strong desire to buck musical cliches and structural confines. It's not quite free-jazz, but it feels like freedom--so let that shit RING.