Monday, 4 August 2014


I needed something to listen to doing some rather monotonous tasks at work and after having an "Arthur" moment on the plane last week I dug around in my archives and found a couple of mixes/compilations I'd done solely with Arthur Russell material from ages ago, chucked them on the iPhone and got on with things. Village regulars will of course have heard of Arthur Russell, but for those who haven't he was a musician who is notable (amongst many other things) for successfully combining the avant-garde with pop music, at least, that was his ambition. In many senses, his work within the discotheque arena of the late 70's early 80's fulfills that brief in full. Tim Lawrence has written an excellent academic biography, "Hold Onto Your Dreams" and Matt Wolf directed a documentary, "Wild Combination" about Arthur's life which I heartily recommend if this entry piques your interest.

Arthur's music is so varied (Folk, Classical, Experimental, Disco, Indie, the names don't really mean anything as it's all one big melting pot) that several hours of listening will not become tiresome, yet remain coherent and distinctively "Arthur". For me, Arthur was the ultimate bedroom producer and listening to this selection makes me weep for the creativity, musicality and inspiration so lacking in much of the self produced "music" that floods the internet. He was pushing many fields forward with a vision and ambition that makes me wonder why no-one today (within my limited field of view) seems to be following his example and aiming for new pastures rather than re-treading soggy ground. Of course there are artists whose ambition remains high although too often let down by their distinct lack of the genius that makes one of my heroes so special.

Here's some of the weirdest songs you can call classics, with the strangest lyrics that make sense, the most peculiar rhythms that make you move, the most curious melodies that make you cry and smile at the same time, the most alien grooves that put you in a trance. As usual my friend Niki introduced me to most of this stuff. First time I heard Another Thought was in the car en route to a Loft Party. Everyone else in the car was like "what is this rubbish, put something else on" but I remember being quite transfixed by it, ultimately succumbing to popular demand however reminding myself to come back to this curio later. Needle-dropping Schoolbell/Treehouse ensures you almost always skip it, however my first time was in my room after a very long listening session polished with a lot of Rum and through the smoke this was deep deep techno of the most psychedelic order. Listen to "Cornbelt", everything is inventive, creative, the guitar line, the Chicago house fills and snares, the disco claps, the wandering and hard grooving bass line, all of it, slowly unravelling, losing control and taking you with it, nothing making sense, like being rolled around in the ocean.

The picture is from a bay or two over from Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, a place I reckon Arthur would have quite liked.

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