If you’re feeling a little lost

Saturday, 9 November, 2013 0 Comments

When the composer and cellist Arthur Russell died of AIDS in New York City on 4 April 1992, aged 40, Kyle Gann of The Village Voice wrote: “His recent performances had been so infrequent due to illness, his songs were so personal, that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.” Arthur Russell was a peculiar talent and his abilities extended far beyond “conventional” composition and performance. His experimental work was a huge hit in the New York disco scene of the early 1980s and tracks such as Is It All Over My Face, which was recorded on stolen studio time, was a commercial hit, a staple in the club scene and a formative influence on Chicago house. Here, Nat Baldwin of the Dirty Projectors performs Arthur Russell’s beautiful A Little Lost.

Another train tune

Saturday, 23 March, 2013 0 Comments

The brilliant American harpsichordist Scott Ross, who died tragically young of AIDS in 1989, likened Les Barricades Mystérieuses, a 1717 composition by François Couperin, to a train in that it conveys the the image of a heavy, fast-moving object that keeps picking up momentum. And the the mysterious barricades of the title are objects that cause the “train” to slow down and then stop.

François Couperin, whose title was ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du Roi, was certainly not thinking of trains when he wrote this baroque piece for the harpsichord, but he loved to create layers of music and his barricades can be seen as a precursor of the dense, layered, reverberant “Wall of Sound” that Phil Spector engineered in the 1960s.