Ariel Archives revisits Ariel Pink’s historic run of albums as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti with a series of definitive reissues and new collections. The first installment begins with Underground, the inaugural album in the series, Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2, a long-awaited second volume of outtakes and non-album tracks, and finally Loverboy, an exemplary disc recorded between October 2001 and July 2002, at which time Ariel also recorded House Arrest.
Pink had mastered an idiosyncratic recording technique by the time of Loverboy, using his Yamaha MT8X-8, a consumer grade 8-track cassette machine he first used to record The Doldrums two years earlier. Ariel’s music had developed its signature elements: intricate arrangements with memorable hooks, startling instrumental tones and manipulated, layered vocals. Ariel’s “mouth-drums,” an unusual beatbox technique that required rhythmic bursts of air, provided percussion. The songwriting ambition had increased, too. Loverboy delivered confident songs that seemed rescued from a lost canon of pop music with a mysterious point of origin.
Loverboy and its sibling albums also showed a comical and irreverent side to Ariel’s music. This instinct was encouraged by the experimental pop antics of Ariel’s new mentor and friend, R. Stevie Moore. Ariel Pink recall’s Moore’s influence in the new liner notes for Loverboy (written by Hedi El Kohlti): “I was listening to his tapes and marveling at how inventive the stuff he was doing at my age was….He was pushing me to do my own thing.” Loverboypays tribute to R. Stevie Moore with a remarkable cover of “Hobbies Galore”. Ariel reinterprets Moore’s haunting acoustic song in a darkly hued 80s synth-pop style.
Loverboy was created alongside House Arrest and recorded in an unusual environment; Ariel’s bedroom inside the Ananda Marga Ashram and Meditation Center. Located in a house near the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Central, Los Angeles, the ashram espoused a list of rules for tenants, which Ariel observed. In an effort not to disturb his roommates, Ariel recorded in the evening using headphones and performing instruments directly through a pedal to his 8-track tape recorder without amplification. In the morning Ariel would listen to the results on his Sanyo stereo system next to his mattress on the floor. Thus was established a recording process and ritual for the sophomore phase of the Haunted Graffiti catalogue.
Despite this meditative environment, Loverboy was not a solitary effort. Several of the albums most outstanding songs were collaborative. “Ghosts” and “Loverboy” were co-written with John Maus, who had supplied skeletal keyboard fragments for Ariel to develop into full songs. Another Loverboy classic, “I Don’t Need Enemies,” was written by Matt Fishbeck, a new collaborator and close friend. Ariel and Matt also started working on Stranded at Two Harbors, the debut album by Holy Shit, in Ariel’s bedroom at the Ashram.