Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, March 27

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Review: Wild Sweet Orange @ Schubas My Morning Jacket Postponements »

Music & Film Tue Oct 07 2008

Undiminished echoes: The life & music of Arthur Russell

At the time of his death in 1992, the 40-year-old cellist, composer and experimental dance-music auteur Arthur Russell left behind an enigmatic musical legacy -- one that included a few (largely overlooked) albums of songs and compositions, a string of quirky disco tracks, and a backlog of some 1000 tapes of unreleased and unfinished recordings. Having connected the dots between American minimalist composition and disco's dancefloor permutations, Russell created music that rode on chromatic shifts and dislocated rhythms -- a music that seemed at the same time both insular and expansive in mood, that existed like a lover's whisper that fills your head, like the melodies of a man singing softly to himself as he drifts across an ocean of sound on a boat of his own making.

It would take much of the rest of the music world a decade or more to catch up. Thanks to the recent efforts of the Audika label, more of Russell's work has become available in the past five years. Still, so long after the fact, Russell's music continues to amaze and baffle listeners; influencing a new generation of songwriters, while leaving fans and critics alike wrestling with descriptives.

And now comes Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, the new documentary by filmmaker Matt Wolf that arrives in Chicago this weekend for a limited run. The film offers an overview of Russell's life and work, featuring rarely-seen archival footage and interviews with various friends, family, and collaborators who knew and worked with Russell throughout the years. Also among the interviewees are Jens Lekman, composer Philip Glass, as well as author and sound artist David Toop.

As it's made the rounds of film festivals and selected screenings in the past six months, Wild Combination has received unanimously glowing reviews. Writing in the Village Voice, critic Andy Beta remarked that Wolf's film "resonates on an emotional level, much like Russell's most profound music does." Nathan Lee, in his review at the New York Times, calls the film "a tender, fascinating documentary...that will delight the cult and instantly convert new members;" adding "that it's impossible to hear [Russell's] strange, soulful music without wanting to hear more, immediately, preferably on high-end headphones somewhere glamorously desolate: the rim of a volcano, a moldy loft in Bushwick, Brooklyn; sand dunes in December."

Wild Combination arrives in Chicago this week for a limited engagement of three screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center -- the first this Friday, October 10, at 8 PM. Subsequent viewings will take place next Monday and Tuesday evenings. Check the Film Center's schedule for times for full details. An after-show dance party will be held at the Hideout following the film's screening on Friday night.

[video]: Wild Combination - film trailers 1 & 2
[video]: Arthur Russell - "Terrace of Unintelligibility" (1985 performance)

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15