Song Of The Day 12/2/2016: Arcesia – “Butterfly Mind” + "Desiree"


The Art Of Giving Up -- The strange case of John Arcesi reveals the one person featured in this week of outsider music who actually had a modicum of true talent. Arcesi was a promising big band singer in the '30s, '40s and '50s, who was actually signed to Capitol Records in the '50s as a solo artist. A report circulated that women fainted at the sound of some of his more impactful hits, particularly one called "Lost In Your Love" which I can't find. Unfortunately this proved to be a stunt inexplicably cooked up by Arcesi's press agent. Unable to resuscitate his living after the botched publicity gambit, Arcesi vanished in the '60s and did some gardening or something. (An acetate of his unreleased album Prisoner of Love reveals him as a practiced, if ultimately overwrought, crooner in the Scott Walker range.)

In 1971 Arcesi returned with something totally unexpected. Following the death of his wife the previous year, the 54-year-old Arcesi rechristened himself Arcesia and recorded something called Reachin' Arcesia. Though it definitely fits under the category of "outsider" music and contains a couple of moments of maladroit arrangements, it's not terrible and actually conveys the singer's understandable melancholy in evocative ways. Very few copies were pressed and Arcesi's family thought he'd gone a little weird, but the album fetched a pretty penny on eBay and pretty much hits every target it shoots for. It's easy to picture a young Jandek freaking out on this guy's vibe.

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