event,Old Music — Dan on May 12, 2008 at 10:42 pm

I don’t remember how I learned about Arthur Russell or when I made the connection that the guy who did Is It All Over My Face? was the guy who did Go Bang! who was the guy who did that cello track on the Crepuscule comp who was that Arthur Russell who wrote World of Echo. I do know around the time the first Disco Not Disco comp came out, I was fully obsessed. Here was somebody who effortlessly sailed his boat through disparate oceans of sound, combining them at will, adding fair amounts of dub and art to his pop, great degrees of art and noise to his disco and cello to all of it. I hunted high and low for both 12″s of Dinosaur’s Kiss Me Again, and almost cried when Lee Douglas gave me a copy of Let’s Go Swimming for free. And even now after several years of digging in the tapes and crates, with a series of great archival releases on Audika records, there’s still wonderful music to discover. I’m excited to see Matt Wolf’s movie Wild Combination, and thrilled to be hosting the after-party at this rare Thursday edition of Dazzle Ships. We’re gonna hear some great music. Come on down thursday night, I want to see all my friends at once.

Where do I start? We arrived at the Kitchen for the first showing and found ourselves in the row directly behind most of the cast of the movie…Arthur’s partner Tom Lee, Steve Knutson from Audika, Ernie Brooks, Steve Hall, Bob Blank, Peter Zummo among others. In front of them sat my old Oberlin classmates Nick Hallett and Alex Waterman who are both involved in the Kitchen’s Arthur Russell performances this weekend, fellow Obie Peter Hess is performing as well, but I didn’t see him. The crowd was a who’s who of DJs, musicians, journalists, bloggers, downtown art types etc etc.

Anyway, the movie was absolutely fantastic. Just amazing. Beautiful, touching, really great. Lots of wonderful old footage, and a bit of newly shot footage excellently capturing and setting the mood. Director Matt Wolf picked a limited amount of people to interview, so you get in depth memories from people that knew Arthur best instead of the vague and irrellevant celebrity talking heads you get in so many documentaries. In addition to the names listed above, Arthur’s parents are interviewed, giving the film some of it’s funniest, and most touching moments, Will Socolov from Sleeping Bag and a few others appear.

The only real “outside” perspective is from David Toop, which is appropriate as it was an article he wrote in the 90s, perhaps for the Wire(?), that turned a lot of people onto Arthur’s music and for many years was the only resource available that I could find. Tim Lawrence, author of Love Saves the Day, mentions what I think was a later Toop article that was from the time of the first Audika and Soul Jazz reissues here, but I think there was an article he wrote more specifically about the World of Echo material and it’s relation to dub earlier on, I remember reading it around the time of the Disco Not Disco compilation.

The movie was followed initially by what was probably the longest round of applause I’ve heard this side of a Bruce Springsteen concert, then a great Q+A session, after which Jeremy, myself and friends shot over to Heather’s to start our first thursday Dazzle Ships. The bar was crowded already and just got moreso. At some point I was reaching for the most difficult Russell records I could find in the hopes of driving away the east village “little friday” drinkers and making more room for the after-party. Sure enough as the night progressed and the second screening finished, more and more people from the film, both filmmakers and filmgoers began to show up. Jeremy came up to me while I was DJing to tell me he just got beers for Peter Gordon and Ned Sublette. Tom Lee joined us a moment after and I reminded him that we had met 5+ years before, the last time I did an all Arthur Russell night, which he remembered. That felt appropriate, some kind of cyclical feeling, the wheel of life and all that. So come join us again in 2013 for another all Arthur Russell DJ night!

The question this post was started with was answered last night by Ryan Chowdhury. We were reminiscing over first hearing various bits of Arthur’s music…talking about the release of the Strut compiltion Disco Not Disco, which I bought right away and brought to Plant Bar and played Kiss Me Again (edit) by Dinosaur probably 3 times, having never heard that particular song before despite already loving Arthur’s better known disco songs as well as the World of Echo and Another Thought albums. He mentioned remembering somehow the July 4th at the house on Ryerson in Brooklyn where I first met Mark Morgan of the band Sightings. His friend Brian, from Mouthus, was subletting a room from one of the girls I went to school with. This was the house where Oneida would play acoustic sets…the Oberlin mafia in full effect. Mark and I discussed our shared love of DIY post-punk type stuff, though his tastes ran more toward the I Hate the Pop Group style aggressive/noise side of things and mine towards the twee scottish poppy funky side of things. I mentioned how it combined with my love of disco and how I was really into disco and Mark said the only disco he was really into was this guy Arthur Russell who made all these disco records and weird noisy records and ethereal pop records and etc etc. I remember thinking “what does this guy know about disco?” but it had to be some point after that that I put it all together. So thanks Ryan for reminding me and thanks Mark for kicking that off. Mark also made me a mix of crazy diy keyboard no wave skronk punk stuff and turned me onto Red Transistor and the Four Plugs but that’s another story…



    Comment by KEEHNAN — May 13, 2008 @ 1:15 am
  2. any chance that the set will get recorded and posted? this west coast fan of both arthur russell and your mixes would love to hear it…

    Comment by rory — May 13, 2008 @ 2:12 am
  3. Jeremy usually records the sets with this little USB iKey thing. We’ll see how it comes out.

    Comment by Dan — May 13, 2008 @ 8:35 am
  4. and isn’t this competing with Hanger Bar Thursdays, Keehnan?

    Comment by Dan — May 13, 2008 @ 11:38 am
  5. any luck in recording things? movie sounds wonderful; really hoping it makes it out to seattle…

    Comment by rory — May 19, 2008 @ 1:26 am
  6. we did record it though I haven’t checked it out yet. Probably won’t share it, as it’s 3 or 4 straight hours of one artist…I’d feel a bit weird about that! It’ll all eventually come out on Audika if it hasn’t already! Sorry.

    Comment by Dan — May 26, 2008 @ 12:24 pm
  7. no problem. was just curious to hear all those tracks i know so well in a slightly different context…

    Comment by rory — May 28, 2008 @ 2:54 am
  8. Sounds like a fantastic evening. I cannot wait to see this film!

    Comment by Andrea — June 1, 2008 @ 9:34 pm
  9. Ugh… that July 4th party. I had, like, severe heatstroke and you wouldn’t take me home because you were too busy talking to Mark about obscure records.

    Comment by Lauren — August 21, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

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