WILD COMBINATION > A Portrait of Arthur Russell

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As Philip Glass explains in Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, the late 1970s/early 1980s were a heady time for avant-garde musicians in New York City. Buoyed by the tolerance and inquisitiveness of dance music and New Wave, both of which liked electronics and repetition, New Music practitioners thought they could find a sizeable pop audience.Label: PLEXIFILM
[Rating: 3 stars]

As Philip Glass explains in Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, the late 1970s/early 1980s were a heady time for avant-garde musicians in New York City. Buoyed by the tolerance and inquisitiveness of dance music and New Wave, both of which liked electronics and repetition, New Music practitioners thought they could find a sizeable pop audience. None tried harder than cellist/composer Arthur Russell, a gangly and acne-scarred gay Iowa farm boy who had a genius touch for contemporary classical, disco, Indian music, rock… even dreamy singer/songwriter folk music in the Nick Drake mode. He died of AIDS in 1992 before he had a chance to really make it, but he left a trove of recordings and footage. Those form the basis for Matt Wolf’s film, which is nicely framed by visits to the cornfields of Oskaloosa, Iowa, where Russell’s parents still live and support his rediscovery. Tom Lee, his longtime companion, also speaks at length and there are interviews with other musicians and artists, including Glass and Allen Ginsberg. There is a Russell rediscovery underway; this provides a good introduction.

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