Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Worn Copy

[Paw Tracks; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: deconstructionist pop, low key space funk, psych rock, schizophrenia rock
Others: R. Stevie Moore, Ween, All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors, Animal Collective

Would it be an insult to call the works of Ariel Pink a curiosity? I don't know, but that's the highest recommendation I can provide to you music lovers out there. This is some truly curious sounding material. It'll open your mind and it will fill you with an acute and unprecedented nausea in your vulnerable state. It's not like that whole noise thing. But can be just as unnerving. It's a new kind of bad trip that brings to mind Ratso and Joe Buck shuffling around to that "Orange Juice on Ice" ad jingle to stay warm. It's fuzzy vintage a.m. radio burbling under sticky odds and ends in some dumpy junkie apartment.

I'm very taken with both this album and The Doldrums (admittedly there's next to nothing distinguishing the two LPs). But do I ever casually listen to it? Honestly, barely at all. I'm afraid Pink's music is just novelty, albeit a particularly enticing and weird one. Gary Wilson has nothing on this guy when it comes to outsider pop subversion. The rhythms run from loping along to a disorienting sense of interruption, as though the songs keep second-guessing themselves. The occasional oddball samples are a lot of fun and add some nice dimension to the muddiness of the overall approach. "Credit" sounds like "Mozart" by The Canadian Brass killed by ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey.

But enough about the novel aesthetics. Is this album worth your money? Are there memorable melodies? Does it grow on you? It's hard to say. If you've ever thought that Ween never went as brown as they could've, well then here's some of the most peachy keenest aural diarrhea leak this listener's come across. It won't make you feel good; its bad vibes are palpably intense. But it's not always depressing -- that really depends on your mood. There are no memorable melodies, really. With the lite Phil Collins funk and unvarying percussive approach (apparently provided with Pink's mouth), there's nothing that really stays with you. It doesn't feel so much serious as it does committed to its sound. It's not necessarily tongue-in-cheek, but it sure can be absurdly hilarious. Check out "Cable Access Follies" to see what I mean.

Ariel Pink's got himself a formidable imagination. I may make this record sound like a drag, but it's actually a lot of fun. And I happen to love weird for weird sake when it's done right, and here it is. But maybe it's just a little too sprawling to speak to those of us who desire a little hookage with our cracked atmospherics. There is a freedom to his work that is exciting, but it doesn't call to the listener. It goes on ad-nauseum in its fortified puke bubble without any regard for levity. It doesn't need to grow on you. It's immediate experiments suck you right in, but they unfortunately leave you feeling kind of blah. I don't know if I've ever come across something so vital, yet so bland. In a lot of ways Worn Copy is like a soundtrack to indigestion. But it's an inspired enough headfuck to make any true fan of experimental music swoon. (Also, it's fantastic tangential mixtape source material.)

1. Good Kids Make Bad Grown Ups
2. Strange Fires
3. Among Dreams
4. For Kate I Wait
5. Haunted Graffiti
6. Gray Sunset
7. The Doldrums
8. Envelopes Another Day
9. The Ballad of Bobby Pyn
10. Don't Think Twice (Love)
11. Until the Night Dies
12. Crying
13. Theme From Unreleased "Claris Gardens"
14. Let's Build a Campfire There
15. Young Pilot Astray