Who is Ariel Pink?: Known as the unofficial king of the Los Angeles ‘freak pop’ scene, Ariel Pink (real name Ariel Marcus Rosenburg) has been releasing Hypnagogic pop music since the late 90s.
For those of you who don’t know, Hypnagogic pop is a nostalgic sub-genre of pop (calling back to the 80s and early 90s) that incorporates the use of retro instruments (vintage synthesizers mainly), recording techniques (4 tracks, reel-to-reel, etc.), and means of production/distribution (mostly cassettes). It is also known as chill-wave or bedroom pop. Ultimately, most everything about the music is meant to be as lo-fi as possible.
Pink was lost in obscurity–in the late 90s and early 2000s–until he was able to hand one of his home-recorded albums to Animal Collective members after a show. Once they gave it an honest listen, they knew they had stumbled upon something special. Pink was soon after signed to their label: Paw Tracks. His music has flourished commercially since then (especially after eventually signing to 4AD Records).
His music–like many of the artists I discuss–is hard to describe. Everything (drums, vocals, guitars, keys) comes through soft, fuzzy, and warm–you know, the usual lo-fi aesthetic. However, when it comes to song structure, Pink digresses in ways that almost no listener is totally prepared for. Few other artists I’m aware of incorporate more weird, random sounds (such as fart noises, finger-in-cheek ‘pop’ sounds, moaning, etc) than Pink. Sometimes, Pink will start what seems to be a perfectly catchy riff or phrase–and suddenly steer away from it into an abrasive passage that causes your hand to involuntarily reach for the volume knob in self-defense. Other times, Pink will carry on with a phrase for so long that you could almost consider it ‘drone’ music. Whatever the case, it’s obvious that Pink’s most prominent creative mission is to keep listeners on their toes. Always.
Interesting Fact: Pink’s world views and philosophies (on music and society and life in general) are confounding–to say the least. Other than trying to paraphrase this–I will provide you with a link to an illuminating article (which includes plenty of quotes from Pink) written by The Guardian.
Recommended Listening: “Round and Round” off of his 2010 album Before Today.