by Ryland Walker Knight
Arthur Russell and Phill Niblock's "Terrace of Unintelligibility" is split in two on YouTube, thus this playlist I made. I first heard about the music-art-video when I read this Mark Richardson column a while back. As Richardson notes, the arbitrary start and stop make this document especially curious and lovely: how long could you listen to this? Forever? What strikes me now is the mask of darkness, the will to obscurity that can often result from perfectionism—or simply more "adventurous" art. All the darkness makes me think of Costa, and curious as ever to see what Ne Change Rien looks like on a big screen. Light leaks around the form, as the words Russell spills coalesce in the corners of his mouth, which is, of course, our first focal point. It's also an image of proximity where the ghost pushes present (however in shadow), transformed at least thrice over. But, again, this battered image endears the piece to me and my eyes so hungry for textures of light—even degraded pixel squares cobbled mosaic-like. In any event, Russell's not all minimal warbling and cello tapping and ethereal drones. He made disco, too, and gave Paradise Garage one of its hallmarks: "Is It All Over My Face." I made another playlist for its A and B sides below; the B side remix is by Larry Levan, who was also a superstar, and deserves his own post.
—Thanks, @cambomb, for reminding me of this earlier tonight.