Arthur Russell might have been the most important musician you’ve never heard of. Cellist, pianist; composer of extraordinary classical, folk and disco music; friend (and one-time lover) of Allen Ginsberg: he legitimized New York’s burgeoning disco scene in the 1970s and 80s, and became one of the East Village’s queer culture figureheads before his AIDS-related death in 1992. Twenty years on, Pitchfork and AIDS awareness charity Red Hot—responsible for the hugely successful compilation album Dark Was the Night—hope to honor and unite the late New York composer’s diverse, fragmented discography with This Is How We Walk on the Moon, a covers compilation of some of Russell’s finest songs.
Current musical luminaries such as Robyn, Hot Chip, Owen Pallett, José González and Scissor Sisters have all signed on, but it remains to be seen whether the LP will ever see the light of day. While in the past Red Hot’s projects have been funded by major record companies, this latest venture is relying on a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for production costs. It’s a commercial decision which both speaks to Russell’s massive cult following and, sadly, his still relative unknown status in the wider public’s perception. The target is set for $55,000, of which only $12,000 has been raised so far.
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