Wild Combination :: A Portrait of Arthur Russell


With such a varied and eclectic oeuvre it is easy to get lost in the Arthur Russell universe. The man not only dabbled in, but at times reinvented, genres as disparate at electronica, free jazz, classical, disco, folk and ambient — And sometimes did so all at the same time. Arriving on the heels of my favorite Arthur Russell collection to date (Love Is Overtaking Me) is the 2008 documentary A Portrait of Arthur Russell.

Following a fairly straightforward narrative, the doc maps out Russell’s life beginning in the Midwest plains of Iowa – tracing the artist to San Francisco – on to his eventual move to new York City, where he became firmly entrenched in the downtown avant-garde art scene. While not always pretty, Wild Combination does pay an insightful, and honest, tribute to an artist that has only really begun to achieve the kind of attention barely hinted at during his lifetime. Fans of Jeff Mangum will most likely appreciate th stylistic and vocal turns on A Portrait of Arthur Russell – see the track “Eli“, below, for an example.

MP3: Arthur Russell :: Eli
MP3: Arthur Russell :: I couldn’t Say It To Your Face
Amazon: Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me

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6 thoughts on “Wild Combination :: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

  1. While I have not yet acquired (and downloaded) Love Is Overtaking me, I did download Calling Out Of Context, documenting Russell’s mid 80s oeuvre. Russell is phenomenal, and evokes a John Maus of the 70s and 80s, possessing a voice that is a perfect fusion of Antony Hegarty and Nick Drake. Russell is the pioneer of the concept of genre transcending – still relatively obscure and most recently used on Merriweather Post Pavillion – and in Russell’s case, it is gorgeous and masterful.

  2. Like M. Ward, Rachel’s, MMJ and so many others, he will never be as well known as he should. Thanks for keeping him in the public memory.

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