Born in Chicago in 1975, this son of Methodist ministers later attended theater school in Arkansas and taught himself seven languages. After moving to the Pacific Northwest as a youth, Arrington supported himself as a traveling busker selling cassette tapes until he arrived in Olympia to study ethnomusicology at Evergreen State College. In 1995 he founded the trance-funk-gospel-punk band Old Time Relijun which garnered critical praise and a loyal fanbase throughout endless tours of the US and Europe, releasing several dozen albums on K Records. In 2009 he created Malaikat dan Singa (Angels and Lions), a powerful new project integrating dancehall rhythms with gamelan scales, using the Indonesian language to interpret the Zohar and the mystic poetry of William Blake.
In 2011 Arrington was invited to do an artist residency in Indonesia that initiated the first of many tours in Java, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan with the groundbreaking indigenous metal-art-noise band SENYAWA. It was during these travels that Arrington learned of the Javanese Horse Trance ritual known as “Jathilan” and began to organize collaborations with traditional village musicians throughout Indonesia. It is part of a lifelong obsession with the powerful ability of certain kinds of “intense music” to alter ordinary awareness and induce spiritual initiations. Travels such as these, oscillating between the extremes of the contemporary avant-garde and ancient trance music traditions, helped Arrington develop a unique approach to using music as a bridge between diverse global cultures while interrogating and rejecting the domination of “Western” definitions of what music can even be. He has played in ceremonies with the Master Musicians of Jajouka in Morocco, Bauls in Bangladesh, throat-singing shamans in Tuva, and ancient instrument reconstructionists in Peru.
Whether as a band leader or solo performer Arrington’s music evokes an “Ancient Future,” sometimes shocking and hallucinatory, always aiming to channel Spirit.
On Extended Asia, 2022 – Vol. 3: Discovery, Arrington de Dionyso created a live performance that integrated the techniques of Tuvan’s throat-singing and free jazz bass clarinet into a structure similar to Indian Raga. Each sound is like a brush of paint slowly changing color to create a brilliant sparkling temple of ecstatic sound.
Filmed at TC Media by Andrew Ebright.
Image by Arrington de Dionyso
This work is part of “Islandwide Coverage,” a multi-site, multi-author project by AWKNDAFFR is an artistic operation situated at the intersection of art, theory, and praxis by Wayne Lim and Soh Kay Min.
Part of “Natasha,” Singapore Biennale [SB2022]—across a network of sites, including the Singapore Art Museum [SAM] at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. It will take place from 16 October 2022 to 19 March 2023.