Arto Lindsay

Arto Lindsay

Arto Lindsay (born May 28, 1953, Richmond, Virginia) is an American guitarist, singer, record producer and experimental composer.

He has a distinctive soft voice and an often noisy, self-taught guitar style comprised almost entirely of extended techniques, described by Brian Olewnick "studiedly naïve ... sounding like the bastard child of Derek Bailey" [] ; his guitar work is contrasted frequently with gentler, sensuous Brazilian music themes.


Although Lindsay was born in the United States, he spent many years in Brazil with his missionary parents and came of age during the influential Tropicália movement of Brazilian culture, which included musicians Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Gilberto Gil, as well as the visual artists Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Antonio Dias. This time of cultural experimentation and artistic cross-pollination made an enduring impact on the young Lindsay.

In New York, Lindsay began his artistic ambitions as a writer, but quickly became interested in the art and music scenes that were evolving out of the New York punk rock scene at the time.

In the late 1970s, he co-formed the seminal no wave group DNA with Ikue Mori and Robin Crutchfield, although Tim Wright of Pere Ubu fame would soon replace Crutchfield. In 1978, DNA was featured on the four-band sampler "No New York" (produced by Brian Eno) which brought an early taste of international notoriety to the group, and which quickly became the essential document of No Wave. The famous rock critic Lester Bangs once described the group's ritualistic vocals, and deliberately primitive, speaker-shredding guitar as “horrible noise.”

In the early 1980s, Lindsay, and his particular style of guitar work, featured prominently in the early recordings of John Lurie's "fake jazz" outfit the Lounge Lizards and the Golden Palominos. These groups worked to break down distinctions between rock music, pop music, improvisation and avant-garde experimentalism. It was during this time that Lindsay established a collaborative friendship with John Zorn, playing in a number of his ensembles including Locus Solus (band).

After leaving the Lounge Lizards, Lindsay formed the Ambitious Lovers with keyboardist Peter Scherer. This music was decidedly more pop influenced and featured more prominent attention to Brazilian music--samba and bossa nova. Although their three albums, "Greed", "Envy", and "Lust" were Lindsay's first forays with a major record label, these albums genre-bending pop never caught on in the mainstream. The Ambitious Lovers disbanded in 1991, although Lindsay remained a strong working relationship with Scherer, and continued to record with him.

In the early 1990s. Lindsay began to rarefy his singing voice and launched a solo career which was significantly more oriented toward his Brazilian roots, singing in Portuguese more frequently, throwing in occasional covers of bossa nova classics like João Gilberto's "Este Seu Olhar", and updating his sound from 1980s new wave to more current types of electronica on albums such as "O Corpo Sutil (The Subtle Body)" (1996), "Mundo Civilizado" (1997), "Noon Chill" (1998), "Prize" (1999), "Invoke" (2002), and "Salt" (2004). These albums are unique in their reliance on collaboration between the musicians, producers and composers that Lindsay continues to work with; Lindsay has worked extensively with bassist Melvin Gibbs, guitarist Vinicius Cantuária, and producer Andres Levin to help create his sound.

Throughout the late 1980s and through the 1990s, Lindsay also composed a number of soundtracks, dance commissions and even continued to dabble in No Wave-influenced projects, most notably with the Arto Lindsay Trio, with Gibbs and Dougie Bowne, who released "Aggregates 1-26" on the Knitting Factory label in 1995.

Over the years, Lindsay has lent his musical talents to--and collaborated with--such artists as: They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Marc Ribot, Cibo Matto, Bill Frisell, Animal Collective, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Krisma, and Kip Hanrahan, to name but a few.


Lindsay has appeared in a number of films, usually in tie-ins with other artists. Lindsay had a cameo appearance in the Madonna vehicle "Desperately Seeking Susan" and can be seen playing "skronk" guitar in "Downtown 81", a film about the art and music in the East Village featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat and Deborah Harry. He is also featured in "Step Across the Border", a documentary on the musician Fred Frith, directed by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel (1990).


Lindsay has produced recordings by Brazilian musicians Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, Vinicius Cantuária, Gal Costa, Carlinhos Brown, and Marisa Monte.

Artist projects and collaborations

From Lindsay's early days in New York amidst the burgeoning art and music scene of the East Village, he was able to befriend and collaborate with a number of visual artists who have gone on to important careers in art. With Diego Cortez (born James Curtis) — who would become the artistic director for all his solo endeavors starting in the mid 1990s — Lindsay became immersed in an art community that included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nan Goldin, Francesco Clemente and Andy Warhol. Since then, Lindsay has included the work of Goldin, Kara Walker, Matthew Barney, Philip Taffe and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré on his albums.

He has also collaborated with Canadian artist Rodney Graham at an exhibition at Deitch Projects, and as part of a sound-art exhibition at PS1, a gallery in New York.

Arto Lindsay has written the epilogue for the official biography of the German experimental band Einstürzende Neubauten "No beauty without danger" (German title: "Nur was nicht ist, ist möglich").


* netmage 2006 performs "Ipanema Théories" with Dominique Gonzalez Foerster and alone" Garden of self regard"

External links

* [ Official homepage]
* [ Personagem: Talking With Arto Lindsay] Interview from "The Morning News"
* [ Official Myspace page] for "Llik Your Idols", a documentary about the Cinema of Transgression featuring Arto Lindsay
* [ Arto Lindsay & Toni Nogueira: "Buy One" (1:06)] published on the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine @ Ubuweb

Video links

* [ Arto Lindsay RBMA video lecture session Pt.1]
* [ Arto Lindsay RBMA video lecture session Pt.2]

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