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Arto Lindsay – The Encyclopedia of Arto

Northern Spy (N. America)/Ponderosa (Europe)

The Encyclopedia of Arto LindsayI sort of lost touch with Arto Lindsay‘s work after Mundo Civilizado, the second album in which he swapped his usual oblique guitar trademarks for the sweet whispering of sensual nothings into your ear. A Brazilian-focused crooning wrapped in a spicy salsa of re-circuitry and upbeat topographies.

Disc one of this new Lindsay compendium takes this easy on the ear perspective, twelve songs that span 1996 to 2004 collated by Arto himself. The blend is varied and highlights Lindsay’s excellent wordsmithery. Personally, I really wished he’d put more of Mundo on this first disc. The wavy sigh of “Imbassaí” is sadly absent from the line up, so is the midge-ridden “Horizontal,” although “Complicity” (which does make the grade) does more than make up for both with its blinding brilliance swooping that light samba of grenadine percussions. There’s lots I haven’t heard here – like “4 Skies” and the blasé “Simply Are” with its slinky footfalls, word painting pictures and billiard gambols, illuminated too with that glitch, twang, skip’n’jump that’s always on the verge of an elastic collapse. When he’s plying the action in Portuguese he’s in his element, zesting that smoothness to the max, with imagined midriffs gyrating to the groove-tastic sensibilites of “Personagem” or the swirling room of “Combustível” — songs that trickle with seductive chemistries.

So far it’s a very pleasant trip, Arto’s challenging nature romanticising the lighter side of his persona before dipping into the contrasting second disc and its fiery dynamics. If disc one was about continuity, the second is about disruption. Lovers of his DNA days will warm to the atonal action displayed in this, a solo show recorded back in 2012. The man has a talent for pulling strange geometries from his guitar and he doesn’t hold back from doing so. It’s incredibly naked, shaking off the commercial shackles in ugly rubs and aggressive fret marionettes, and at times it doesn’t even sound like a guitar.

As a curious bid for continuity, or just plain amusement, he even ruffles the feathers of a few tracks that sit on the first disc. The butchered “Invoke,” for example, its original close-knit rhythmics pared down to a shovelling fret and bursts of snarling electricity; or “Illuminated” with its hacked up Sonic Youth of rusted spanners – or is that an office fan playing the (dis)chords? He seems to be revelling in the electricity of it all, a voice unadorned, full of convulsive energies, the odd screamed moment a perfect complement to his ear-chewing guitar. I’ve got to say that the homage to Prince’s “Erotic City” is also pure barbed brilliance. Again the Portuguese stuff is dazzling. “Maneiras” sounds like a Pixies demo circa Surfer Rosa, almost completely acapella with a mild shuffling of frets, the lyrics dancing intoxicated in his mouth. “Estaco Derra Deira” is also starkly sung with only a numb neck-punch of funk approximation to accompany it.

The crowd enthusiastically laps it all up, Mr Lindsay, seemingly high on dishing out the jarring energies. The stuttering dynamics of “O Mais Belo” are great, swarf spiralling like some alien language — that feedback pulse inhaling/exhaling luxuriously, descending into an overdriven rawness. It all blurs past you until the Encyclopedia ends spectacularly on the burning finale of “Wall of Guitar” — which is just that.

You’re never going to pin somebody like Arto Lindsay down with just two discs, but this collection attempts to give an approximation, a flavour of the man’s work, and one that will no doubt inspire plenty of future digging.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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