mlat53: Arthur's Landing
[New York, USA. August 19th, 2011] - The legacy of Arthur Russell gets carried on by a group of musicians who either knew or worked with the late luminary.

♫ mlat53 - Arthur's Landing.mp3

Welcome to the MLAT fold. Its nice for us to finally have produced something dedicated to your musical musings (I think we've been on this for well over a year now). Have have things been since you put out your self titled release, and are you satisfied with what you've built so far?

It has been an genuine odyssey -- partly in the sense of the Medieval troubadour tradition like minstrels in the 12th Century wandering from town to town to perform although our journey is more metaphysical -- we sing about the past but we are not nostalgic because we are simply renewing material that is still quite fresh in our collective memory -- partly in the sense of an epic journey with challenging and life-changing experiences -- so as we share this intimate knowledge we hope to learn as much as teach -- which is where our dedication to improv comes in.

How would you describe what you and the rest of your group are doing with the Arthur's Landing project? It most certainly comes off as an Arthur Russell tribute effort, but would you describe it as something more or as something different entirely?

Arthur’s Landing as a project evolved organically in the beginning -- now it is going through some changes because of the business aspects -- after we signed the deal with Strut and some money started coming in then our problems started -- Jane Goodall noted in her observations of chimpanzee societies that everyone in the forest family was usually quite happy until food and living space became scarce -- that dwindling resources produced external stress which caused tension and fighting -- in the case of Arthur’s Landing as is common with many bands made up of old friends there is now distrust and arguing over amounts of money which are ironically rather small -- these differences are quite aside from artistic concerns and struggles which are par for the course but informed by the same intensity of passion -- the band as an entity will prevail but probably with a different lineup for the next recording sessions -- out of the eight original members I am still friends with five of them and I mourn the loss of those three friendships -- this has been the most difficult project I've been involved with and I remain ambivalent about the cost.

All of the contributing artists in AL have known each other and have worked with Arhur Russell in the past in some capacity, is that correct? What sparked the genesis of all of you coming together now as you have?

All of the original members knew and worked with Arthur in some way -- it is a testament to the impact of Arthur’s work that as a group we came together simply to remember him -- every year at our percussion player Mustafa’s prompting we would meet on his birthday and sing our favorite Arthur songs -- this spirit of celebration is what drove the project and is hopefully where we are still coming from.

How much longer do you think you will be doing the project? Does it have a shelf life in your mind, or do you see it in other terms?

The music has a shelf life like plutonium -- Ernie our bass player said in another interview that Arthur’s music was something he felt like he could perform for the rest of his life -- I think that feeling is shared by everyone in the band.

You surely favor working with a large collection of different artists (including many local ones while you're touring). Live improvisation or original Arthur Russell songs is also something that you've proven to incorporate with AL. Do you feel that this is something you've added to the music or is part of an original ethos?

Lately I have been thinking about streamlining -- trying to be practical because now we are a touring unit--but it is difficult not to have a party when we are onstage or in the studio because that’s what Arthur did also--he really believed that if you had big fun then the audience would not only feel it too but also enjoy watching how it evolved -- a shared enjoyment of the process -- ”I wanna see all my friends in one place!” Arthur said in the lyrics of Go Bang and my favorite part has been meeting new friends -- young musicians who are not only already familiar with Arthur’s material but its context -- they have studied Steve Reich/Philip Glass and most already have a background in improv so all we can add is what they seek -- a personal and living connection to what they already know--when we were getting ready to perform in Sweden earlier this year there was a lot of discussion in Swedish on FaceBook about the upcoming concert -- I asked one fan for a translation and was told “well we are just surprised and happy that you guys are still alive!”

Anything new and exciting on the horizon?

Bob Blank is on the horizon -- he was our first choice for producer when we got into recording our first cd -- at that time he didnt feel ready but it seems that the time is right now for the second cd -- nobody brings a more intimate knowledge of how Arthur’s music was actually made and Bob’s skills as a producer are already legendary -- it is a match literally made in heaven!

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1. Arthur Russell - Love Dancing (Maple Mix by Buddhist Army) [Unreleased]
2. Arthur Russell - Walk on the Moon (Dream House Mix by Buddhist Army) [Unreleased]
3. Arthur Russell & Steven Hall - Go For The Night (Excello Live Mix by Steve D'Acquisto) [Unreleased]
4. Arthur Russell - It's a Boy (Excello Live Mix by Steve D'Acquisto) [Unreleased]
5. Arthur Russell - Your Motion Says (Excello Live Mix by Steve D'Acquisto) [Unreleased]
6. Arthur Russell - I Want to Change My Life (Excello Live Mix by Steve D'Acquisto) [Unreleased]
7. Arthur Russell - List of Boys (Excello Live Mix by Steve D'Acquisto) [Unreleased]