Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

Author: Lluís Panadés Julià

Section: MUSIC

Date: 05.2013



Due to our admiration for the experimental musician Arthur Russell and his unique sounds, we didn’t want to miss the tribute that a group of Rusell’s big fans organized last Saturday at the Whireled Art Cinema in South London for the musician’s anniversary. If you are not familiar with the artist here you can read some words about him that Dominic Roarty, one of the organizers of the event, very kindly wrote for us:

“From the school band in Iowa to the gritty night clubs of New York, Arthur Russell’s musical career, like his life was as varied as it was interesting.

He first picked up the cello as a young boy, following in his mother’s footsteps and quickly began composing and playing music with others. It was when he left small town America that he was truly able to express himself and begin to explore his own signature avant-garde style. His first step, at 18, was to move away to San Francisco and join a Buddhist commune. His Buddhism, probably more akin to the “Beat Zen” movement, was at odds with that of the group and he moved to New York where he began to create and work alongside other artists with similar ideologies, such as Allen Ginsberg and Phillip Glass.

Williamsburg was where he really came into his element. Living and working in a creative environment and being able to exchange ideas with other artists was enlightening for Arthur. He became heavily influenced by an emerging disco scene and began producing his own tracks in this style. Records such as Is it all over my face? and Let’s Go Swimming were played on the Studio 54/Gallery circuit and are still spun at parties today. It was around the time of the release of arguably his greatest work, World of Echo, that Arthur was diagnosed with HIV. This began the steady decline of his health as he quickly contracted throat cancer. He continued to write and perform as much as he could right up to the end with his long-term partner, Tom Lee, by his side.

The remarkable thing about Arthur Russell was that the majority of the appreciation for his work should come some ten to fifteen years after his death. Some suggest that it was his destructive approach to the business side of the music industry that meant he did not succeed in his lifetime while others argue that his music was too unique and ground-breaking for his generation.

As his birthday approaches (May 21), we decided to throw a party in his honour with a screening of Matt Wolf’s documentary Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell and disco dancing in London’s Whirled Art Cinema.”

Saturday 18 May 2013, Whirled Art Cinema, London (SE24 0HN)
Documentary Screening 9.30pm, Dancing 11pm-3am.


A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB

A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB

A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB

A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB

A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB

A Wild Combination l DRESSLAB


+ info_ Wild Combination a portrait of Arthur Russell

Photography_ Lluís Panadés Julià



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