Arto Lindsay: simple as ok

One of the most enigmatic and avant-garde musicians of the modern age performed in Moscow

Arto Lindsay26 November would have been just another Saturday night if not the visit of Arto Lindsay, a true artist in the world of music and a father of several trends who masterfully synthesized Brazilian rhythms and the avant-garde of the NY downtown.

If he had not become producer, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Lindsay would have perfectly fit into the role of an intelligent maniac in some psychological thriller. His imperturbable look and large round eyeglasses awfully remind a villain so delicate and charming that he would kill you softly.

Fortunately for all of us music addicts Lindsay was born into a family of missionary parents and became a maniac only in terms of music. No New York – the sampler of his first band DNA was called “a horrible noise” by one of the critics. As it turned out later Lindsay did actually create a noise. It was a beautiful one, though. It was this noisy music that influenced numerous bands, both commercial and independent ones, like Rapture, Sonic Youth, Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective and Franz Ferdinand.

Lindsay was brought up in Brazil in the heyday of electric Tropicália movement in the 1960s. He became one of the founders of no wave – noisy atonal music that unexpectedly combined rock, funk and free jazz – in the 1970s. He was already famous in Manhattan downtown scene in the 1980s. Having played with Lounge Lizards and The Golden Palominos he then founded a band called Ambitious Lovers where he went on experimenting with combining all sorts of music, giving preference to Brazilian music heritage.

'90s gave the start to Lindsay's solo career. Having fun with music noise Arto never forgets the melodiousness and throws in bossa nova classics now and then: for instance, João Gilberto's Este Seu Olhar.

Arto Lindsay is not only a talented musician. He also worked as a producer for such Brazilian stars as Caetano Veloso and Vinicius Cantuária. He received Latin Grammy for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album working as a producer for Marisa Monte's album Memórias, Crônicas e Declaraςões de Amor.

Lindsay collaborated with John Zorn, Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto…the list is endless. He has also worked in sound art both as curator and installation artist. He curated music and audio art for Brazil's Carlton Arts Festival, London's Barbican Centre and NY club Tonic.

Arto Lindsay arrived in Moscow just as an intelligent maniac could have: mysteriously and unexpectedly. His performance almost had not been advertised in mass media and the venue that was chosen was by no means a pretentious cheesy Moscow hangout place. It was a small and cozy Club na Brestskoy, where one could enjoy a home atmosphere and feel a sort of community spirit. Looks like Lindsay and Co took it right away and made themselves at home. Arto was strolling among the crowd of people who were waiting impatiently for a concert to start and seemed not to notice his thin figure with eyeglasses. Probably Russian melomaniacs could not imagine Lindsay to be so informal just like in his own song Simply Are: simple as ok.

Sharp guitar chords cutting the silence – such was the beginning – smoothly turned into a melodious song Illuminated. Arto Lindsay does not play the guitar, he turns its pegs inside out and it becomes a freaky instrument that produces screamy, torn sounds. Pulse magazine once called his music “a happy medium between tuneful pleasures and sonic disturbance”. That is what Lindsay's music really is and his Moscow concert proved it once again. He is changing the mood all the time. At one point you are on the verge of crying but Lindsay is winking at the bassist and here they go again, distuning guitars and rapturing the audience with the sweet noise.

Lindsay is experimenting with his voice no less than with his blue-and-white guitar. He is crying, screaming and laughing but never preaching. He is full of energy and even friskiness.

As expected, the audience could not let the band go after the first encore. Lindsay's trio in their turn could not disappoint Russians and finished their performance with Simply Are that was followed by applause from Russia with love, occasionally interrupted by Arto's “spasibo”, which he accompanied with the charming smile. 

Anastasia Pulich

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Author`s name Olga Savka