Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ariel Pink + R. Stevie Moore on PIAPTK Records

Just got word from Mike over at People in a Position to Know Records that I can finally talk about this amazing handmade single that he just put out. If you have to have everything from R. Stevie or Ariel Pink (because of the amazing B-sides, let’s face it) then you’re going to want to just immediately stop reading and head over there to pick this up. Limited, handmade lathe cut, acrylic MIRROR and freaking amazing. I know in theory, you should be able to cut playable grooves into any kind of plastic, but to see it in practice like this on a mirror backed clear surface is really unique. There won't ever be a another single like this...and that's before you even drop the needle.

Even more amazing than the track itself is the fact that PIAPTK has managed to put both of these artists together. Whether this is a tape or email exchange between Stevie and Ariel, or they actually were sitting next to each other in an isolation booth, it’s a pretty amazing document of a collaboration between generations of underground innovators.
Fashion has finally caught up with appreciating both Ariel and Stevie and I’m just happy they got together for a moment....like William Burroughs and Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, that’s almost enough on it's own. I almost don’t even need to hear it, and it can't be judged the same way as their solo releases...it's enough that they each did their unique thing together. They had a few words, played a few chords and history was made for an afternoon.

This crazy medium of this record itself is almost like being able to listen to the original cassette tapes, wound on a misshapen reel, and somehow you're even closer to the source material. The curtains are pulled back on the whole mysterious process just a little more than usual. Stevie begins the single sided track, “SteviePink Javascript” with a few low words after you get used to the amazing amount of hiss coming off this acrylic mirror, which for these two is an essential element. It’s another instrument, a layer to free them up for this improv back and forth jam. A distinctively warbled rhythm for Ariel comes up out of this pre-intro, as if all the tracks on his latest cassette scratch tape just run right into each other, there’s no beginning or end, just an abrupt change in tempo and the sound of the tape head turning on record.
Stevie’s whispering gives way to a synthy bassline, an odd rhythm with some vocal beatboxing and those synthy keys, from the Scared Famous era. Stevie’s almost autotuned or just buried under a variable reverb. This isn't your typical duet, they're stepping all over each other, Ariel busting into a high falsetto chorus over Stevie telling Ariel he’s thinking about running for Senate and if he’ll be his running mate. It’s informal, a chance to collaborate and appreciate each other for a minute... they’re fans and here get to literally play off each other lyrics, responding to the last line, a warped call and response.
Ariel starts:

you tell your friends about me and I'll tell mine about you
nice to meetcha
now... what do you call this music Stevie?
Ariel dreams
SteviePink / You do great shit
You’re better than I am
put a snare here right?
no, you're out of your mind
Ariel and Stevie half rap at points and Ariel breaks into his soul layered falsetto vocals, sometimes creating the guitar sound vocally and other times...well I'm not sure. This has to be well over 5 minutes, winding between their styles in a plodding broken AM see-saw rhythm. Stevie references the Prince line about partying like it’s 1999 and Ariel replies

Too much R&B it's all your fault
have your layer call my lawyer

Beyond the incredible track that was cut into this thing, every single piece of this single is recycled or repurposed. The 'vinyl' itself from mirrored acrylic plastic, each one handcut on Mike's 1940's lathe, each cover handscreened on this a crazy grip tape type of hologram material, even the insert describing the whole process is paper from a garage sale.

This is where I get to the bad news part, this is such an incredible document, I am legitimately sad that only 87 other people are going to be able to hear this. I know that's the point of something this homemade both musically and so intimately handmade, but it's so important, it's got to be shared int he future.

If you're reading this late and PIAPTK is out, go pick up R. Stevie's Phonography, as completely mindblowing and an early blueprint of Ariel. I respect both of these guys so much, Ariel for introducing me to Stevie and Stevie for making this kind of handmade folk pop before I was even born. So inspiring... and with a back catalog like this thankfully it's going to be a million years to make my way through everything.

We can also hope this is the beginning of an entire album collaboration, it sounds too damn fun and completely a part of both of their processes. It's a perfect match. There's no doubt this is going to be gone. I'm happy Mike gave me the chance to hear it and let you guys know about it first, now go pick up this incredible artifact...and hey in the future apocalypse you could even use it to shave or something...it's a win win!

(Even joking about that, I get a little upset.)

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