Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Arto Noise

I was amazed to hear a brief snatch of (what I thought was) the downtown New York post no-wave supergroup Arto Lindsay and the Ambitious Lovers on BBC TV last week. I was even more astonished that it happened on BBC2 0n the Strictly spin-off It Takes Two. (And, by the by, how lovely is Claudia Winkleman?) Sadly, when I checked back on the iPlayer later, it turned out my ears were deceiving me. The short snatch of what I thought was The Ambitious Lovers' Let's Be Adult was, in fact, Groove Armada's Song 4 Mutya (thanks, Google), a song with which I was previously unfamiliar. It's pretty good, though, if a little more brazen than Let's Be Adult, and, to their credit, Groove Armada do acknowledge sampling The Ambitious Lovers in the single's small print.

No matter. This brief sample was like a musical madeleine, and I was soon transported back to New York circa 1984 (strange, as the closest I'd got to New York in 1984 was Liverpool docks). The Ambitious Lovers were a fantastic group, combining the skronk of Lindsay's first group, DNA, with his native Brazilian guitar tones, and with the clattering DMX and brittle synth noise of NYC loft spaces. Much of their ambition and scope can be ascribed to the Swiss-born composer Peter Scherer, who, like Lindsay, has an enviable address book (between them, they've worked with Laurie Anderson, Melvin Gibbs, John Zorn, Seigen Ono, Anton Fier, Bill Frisell, David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Hal Wilner, in fact le tout New York).

Through three stellar albums (Lust, Envy and Greed, all on Spotify) and a succession of major labels, the group flirted with mainstream success (see below, for example), but never quite cracked the big time. Instead they now console themselves with providing film soundtracks and undertaking collaborations, it seems. They were probably a bit too brittle and angular for chart stardom, but you have to Admit It, they made a pretty great sound for 6-odd years, and they still sound great today as far as I'm concerned. I've attached a download if you want to investigate further.

Download Let's Be Adult by the Ambitious Lovers (mp3) (deleted Dec 11)

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