All Posts,event — Dan on September 26, 2008 at 9:05 am

Remember how Dazzle Ships hosted the after-party for the premier of Matt Wolf’s amazing Arthur Russell documentary Wild Combination? Well now the movie is being released for real in theaters and on DVD thanks to Plexifilm. It’s playing this weekend at the IFC Center in NY and ICA in London and there’s gonna be another after-party, and I managed to get myself on the bill once again! It’s at Santos Party House, Saturday the 27th, downstairs.  JD from Le Tigre will be djing from 12-2, then I’ll be on from 2-4 for some late night disco action. Starts at midnight and costs $10. Friends, email me at dan at acuterecords.com for more information.More...

From Plexifilm:

Wild Combination

A Portrait of Arthur Russell

WILD COMBINATION begins in the bucolic landscape of Oskaloosa, Iowa. Chuck and Emily Russell remember their precocious son Arthur’s early inspirations. As a teenager in the 1960s, Arthur was obsessed with Timothy Leary, John Cage, and Beat poetry. Clashing with his parents’ Midwestern conventionalism and inspired by these figures’ counter-cultural imaginations, Arthur ran away from home. He joined a Buddhist commune in San Francisco, and he met his lifelong mentor and collaborator, Allen Ginsberg. Allen described Arthur as “delicate, exquisite-minded, youthful, and at the same time oddly reticent.” The two collaborated on a number of recordings. But when the commune tried to take away Arthur’s cello, forcing him to secretly play in a closet, he followed his greater musical ambition, and he joined Ginsberg in New York.

Arthur began working with Philip Glass and other composers in the avant-garde music world, specifically at The Kitchen, where he became musical director in 1974. He composed melodic orchestral music and absorbed the vanguard ideas of the new music scene. Simultaneously Arthur discovered the liberating social and aesthetic possibilities of underground discos. Under the guise of various monikers—Dinosaur L, Loose Joints, Indian Ocean—Arthur produced playful and eccentric disco records that became hits of the pre-Studio 54 era.

The rules and codes of established genre didn’t apply to Arthur. The serialized patterns of minimalist symphonies resonated with the repetitive rhythms in dance music. Likewise, the utopian social settings of the early discos were like the Buddhist commune Arthur had once known. With childlike innocence and fun, Arthur ambitiously explored all of these possibilities.

He fell in love with his boyfriend Tom Lee, and the two moved in together in the East Village, next door to Allen in a building populated by poets, musicians, and artists.

But despite Arthur’s musical talent and ambition, he was often tempered by self-defeating career choices and alienating perfectionism. It seemed that Arthur was creating a kind of utopia, where the absorbing process of making music was his life. Finishing his work was a secondary concern. Collaborators moved on to new projects, career opportunities passed, and Arthur began working alone in his apartment. What resulted was perhaps his most fully realized body of work, “World of Echo.” These transcendent solo cello-and-voice songs were like intimate diaries that fit somewhere between lullabies and art songs.

It seemed that popular success was within Arthur’s reach: He believed these diverse musical projects would reach a wider audience. But the devastation of AIDS cut Arthur’s career short. When Arthur died, he was puzzlingly lost in obscurity. His 1992 obituary in the Village Voice read, “Arthur’s songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.”

But now fifteen years after Arthur’s death, his music is being rediscovered. In the past five years, Arthur has developed a significant, international following. A new generation has discovered Arthur.

With a visually experimental form, WILD COMBINATION brings to life Arthur’s descriptively rich and emotionally direct music. The film explores the compelling cultural history of New York in the 1970s and ‘80s, the experience of being gay and confronting AIDS, and the cathartic process of making art and pursuing popular success at a time when those goals were mutually attainable. Intimate interviews with Arthur’s family and collaborators, rare archival materials, and an engrossing visual language bring his music to life and give long overdue attention to this ground-breaking artist.


  1. hey Dan

    how about a top 10 Chicago house list? House is back, disco is done.

    give us your wisdom..(just make sure Acid Crash is in there)

    Comment by Eamon Harkin — September 30, 2008 @ 3:26 pm
  2. What about New Jersey house? New York house? I’ll do a house playlist for Viva soon.

    My current favorite Chicago House song is Lil Louis’ I Need a New Dance Beat.

    Comment by Dan — October 3, 2008 @ 8:33 am

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