. issue IV : i .

by barathron

. artist : ariel pink / matt fishbeck .
. album : house arrest / holy shit .
. year : 2007 .
. label : paw tracks / ballbearings pinatas .
. grade : a plus .



Holy Shit was brought to my attention with the (rerereleaser) of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s The Doldrums (2004) from a friend in love with the Brooklynian Wyynian of Animal Collective’s jam. Pink is lo-fi. There are no other words to describe his aural sensibility; or, though there are many, they all just get trumped at low-fi, f-cksus/he might as well be fluxus [a red circle with nothing in’t] because it is quite nonsensibly sensible.

House Arrest opens with Pink kicking and screaming at restraints but is, regardless, much happier than his previous work (e.g. “Trepananted Earth” and “Good Kids”). The albums all have a progressive story of sound in-production, no matter how slight (Doldrums is un-possible to see out of context of “intro to a savant who does all the sounds hisself; at least he makes you believe it/Worn Copy with the mindf-ck peyote trip of track,skip,jump that Ariel employs. cut. cut.) and Ariel seems to understand the ins and outs with his relaxation of traditional ear rules.

If an imprisoned Phil Spector could perhaps liberate one walling shudder of sound to produce per parole, Ariel’s “Hey Jude” is the single presented in flawless silent normal productive purity: no feedback, no popping, no hum could be as mythic. But that would be missing the point.

“Hardcore Pops Are Fun” is what you’re faced with, and the jangle is enough to make you want to “bust some chairs now” (?). The statement is Brian Wilson melody without the fancy Smile orchestra: it is Bill Murray from Caddyshack dreaming drooling into thin air harmonies of happiness. It is delirious, but it has a serious point because you cannot deny the melody danceability, even when there are serious and jagged freakout butcherblock sessions of accurate “Hardcore” pop to freak out at.

Unlike previous albums, tho, House Arrest is continuous, seamless: the tracks do not simply seem saladed together (see “Foilly Foibles/GOLD” and “Trepanated Earth” songs where 8 minutes equals two three- and one two-minute song on one tracklisting: see decollage).

“Interesting Results” is next, in a similar vein with a serious lyrical message. The percussion drives us, and the vocals are accompaniment in giant Ariel MerChorus. He avidly tells us, “Every time I pick up a pen I get interesting results,” and “This is not trying” in a breathlessly effortless falsetto. You believe these songs, that he credits few others with Yorkeian adaptation, a cooption of sound so that his signature is littered on whatever he touches, in a Midas infection, for good or ill. He sounds like no one else.

(Of course, they/he DO. But this is not the current point. Right, Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity is grand, and yes, I think that Xiu Xiu video with the videogame is f-cking tight too.)

You hear Pink most when he is in collaboration. Holy Shit opens in a high fallutingly titled “Maus is Missing” that must be Fishbeck/the Fishbeck-Pink twist “Written All Over Your Face” and then the Pink-stained “Tokyo Gamblers.” Like a Beatles album, the harmonies make the distinctions in voice style and tone an entire outlook with only sound: not to say that one is Lennon and another McCartney, but to know their fingerprints through an ear — that ability. “Tokyo Gamblers” may as well be Pink’s thundering hooves in a dionysian parade, shattering asphalt to clap the cobblestones somehow unharmed beneath.

“Results” has barely jangled and synthesized the first two tracks of House Arrest to a whip (aka Slapstick) and his hip-snapping hums of melody then “West Coast Calamities” breaks the rhythm with Davy Jones’ found audio, the chords jangling “Turn, Turn, Turn” to hit a downswing of tempo, the swirling production slow lyrical mindf-ck as insulting as “Results” with penetrating chorus: cheering his city for having “no political problems [or] artistic elites” or “skyscrapers that crash into Statue of Liberties,” claiming that “the calamities of love are enough for me.”

“Getting High,” “Helen,” “Every Night I Die At Miyagis,” “House Arrest,” and “Alisa” breeze a whole alphabet of musical styles. “High” crosses thrashing punk nihilism with a beautiful beat and message: “I’m so down with getting high in the morning.” “Helen” is a lovesong that Strawberry Alarm Clock never bothered to complete. “Miyagis” is a mystical Three Dog Night cover of Tim Buckley’s rotten corpse done by Four Tet. “House Arrest” has your a-typical answering machine message, done by a heavily accented “Father of Ariel” and then a spiral into a jagged carnival tour of Ariel tribal rock that breaks to a ska skip and Astaire number waltz at odd intervals (see: Ariel Pink shuffling tempos: “Among Dreams,” “Ballad of Bobby Pyn,” “Let’s Build a Campfire There,” “Life in L.A.,” “Creepshow,” and the all-time greatest “Somewhere in Europe/Hotpink!”). “Alisa” comes from nowhere, ghosts of disco long dead racism chains rerisen under the ruthless rose of retro, a love song equation so simple it’s a wonder it has been done until now: “heart, dreams, soul” fulfillment within a single person.

The fade out of the record is a quartet along the lines of a medley: “The People I’m Not” fades in as House Arrest’s doppelganger, but typical Ariel takes it down a notch and dispels/respells all the criticism of himself. “Almost Waiting” is great but the same (look up the artists’ music video snippets and there is one of Fishbeck and Ariel going through a tunnel on a Californian highway mountainpath, a red sports car with this chorus blasting). “Netherlands” gets to be the token ‘Epic Pop’ that Ariel will gooosh upon many a listener (see “Foibles/Gold” and “Trepanated”) with a great punny “Perhaps I will see my Netherlands.” “Higher” may as well be the “Getting High in the Morning” demo track, and a great and simple way to move the album toward the production he seems to resist as stylistic merit, but which may be the best thing about ol’ Ariel.

“Oceans of Weep” is the standout ender in true Doldrummy style. A tsunami wave rushes in upon you: a second from silence then you’re assaulted, a heavy and slow death. It sounds like a viking funeral in February, a tiny beacon of warmth in a frozen arctic sea. The lyrics are archaically blended here in Pink’s more intimate, non-danceable philosophism, where there is no denying the humor and there is no escaping the sound.

by Perkus Tooth