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In rotation: Dinosaur L's '24 by 24'

January 16, 2012 |  6:25 am

In rotation: Dinosaur L's "24 by 24." A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

In rotation: Dinosaur L's '24 by 24'

New York by way of Iowa composer Arthur Russell, who died in 1992, worked in an odd intersection of sounds when he started making music in the mid-1970s. A classically trained violinist who ran with Allen Ginsberg, Russell became obsessed with the nascent loft scene in the East Village, where DJs like David Mancuso, Tom Moulton and Nicky Siano were experimenting with disco and funk, and helping to birth modern dance music. Russell was soon making his own disco tracks under the monikers Indian Ocean, Dinosaur L and Bonzo Goes to Washington and releasing them on Sleeping Bag Records.

“24 by 24” collects the original six-track Dinosaur L album and combines it with extended extras, from the early hit “#5 Go Bang!” to the Ronald Reagan-sampling collaboration with Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison, “5 Minutes,” which takes Reagan's infamous off-mike declaration of war against Russia — “I'm pleased to tell you today that we've outlawed Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes” — and turns it into a dance-floor banger. Walter Gibbons' 12-minute remix of “Go Bang!” is essential listening for anyone interested in the birth of American electronic dance music. Combined, the collection, available on compact disc and limited edition silk-screened vinyl box set, confirms Russell's status as one of the most fascinating and unclassifiable musicians making music in the 1970s.

Dinosaur L
“24 by 24”
Sleeping Bag Records


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—Randall Roberts

Image: Arthur Russell Credit: Tom Lee / Audika Records.