Two songs into the new album from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the frontman issues a command that doubles as his mission statement: “Step into my time warp now.”
The conventional line on Pink, a Los Angeles musician (born Ariel Rosenberg) who started as a home-recording artist in the spirit of his hero, R. Stevie Moore, is that he has become more accessible, starting with 2010’s “Before Today.” Take that with a grain of salt. Even when Pink is more straightforward and the fidelity is higher, he’s still a complete oddball who’s miles removed from what his peers are producing. As his recording budget gets bigger so do his skewed ideas about melody and song structures.
“Mature Themes” is his latest psychedelic tour through the past 60 years of music. One minute it veers on the dreamier side of ’60s sunshine pop (“Only in My Dreams”), the next it’s knee-deep in sludgy post-punk (“Early Birds of Babylon”). “Schnitzel Boogie” is coarse and relentless. Clocking in at nearly 7½ minutes, “Nostradamus & Me” creeps along at a glacial pace, like Scott Walker on the wrong record speed with Brian Eno producing.
As a singer, too, Pink is as chameleonic as ever. It’s a vast leap from his robotic inflections on the opening “Kinski Assassin” to the ragged, loverman croon he employs on a cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby.” If there’s any cohesion here, it’s the realization that it all emerges from the brain of one man who runs his vision through various filters. (Out now)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti plays the Paradise Rock Club on Sept. 16.