When Arthur Russell died of AIDS in April 1992, the cellist, composer, and disco artist had become so obscure that the Village Voice’s obituary read, “his songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.” By that time, however, Russell had collaborated with Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, and a host of other luminaries; only years after his death did he develop a following. Through interviews and a wealth of archival footage, Matt Wolf’s Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell follows his subject’s life from his childhood in Oskaloosa, Iowa, to San Francisco (where he met Ginsberg while living on a Buddhist commune), and then to New York City. More than just a chronicle of a musical innovator whose ambition was continuously hindered by his own perfectionism, the film is also an in-depth examination of the artistic, professional, and sexual dynamics within the New York music scene from the late ’70s through the ’80s. Russell may have been overlooked in his time, but Wolf’s film brings both him and the world he was a part of into full view. —MB