artist profile

His artistic practice integrates music and image-making with his studies of Kabbalah, alchemy and shamanism.

Founding member and driving force behind the experimental Old Time Relijun, multi-instrumentalist Arrington de Dionyso spent most of his childhood in churches due to his minister parents. While his parents were working, de Dionyso occupied himself by playing around with the church’s piano and organ. His parents noticed his interest and started him on piano lessons. Unhappy with the lessons, de Dionyso quit and forgot about playing music but continued to listen to ragas, African music, and whatever else the local library had to loan. When the family moved to Spokane, Washington, de Dionyso got his first exposure to live punk rock and decided to pick up playing again, this time on guitar. Now in high school, he formed a loose band, Ipsofoog, and started making tapes for his homegrown Pine Cone Alley label and playing downtown street corners. He studied ethnomusicology, archetypal psychology and butoh dance theatre at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. College brought also the possibility of making four-track recordings for credit at one of Olympia, Washington’s liberal schools. During his second year away at school, de Dionyso formed Old Time Relijun, a jarring mix of the Birthday Party and free jazz. After a release on Pine Cone Alley in 1997, the band formed a relationship with K Records. The band went through a number of changes, including a series of drummers, but de Dionyso’s vision and influences were always the center. His artistic practice integrates music and image-making with his studies of Kabbalah, alchemy and shamanism. Varieties of Religious Experience, the first recording credited to Arrington de Dionyso & the Old Time Relijun, was released in 2003. I See Beyond the Black Sun took a different direction, with de Dionyso throat singing over a jaw harp and a baritone clarinet drone. During Old Time Relijun’s hiatus, he formed a new band based on Indonesian music called Malaikat dan Singa, using the tropes of diverse shamanic trance musics within a rock and roll performance context. For 2009’s MalaikatDan Singa and 2011’s Suara Naga he went back to a loose fusion approach, rotated in guest musicians as his backing band. Malaikat Dan Singa toured extensively and returned in 2013 with Open The Crown, an album melding the Beefheart-meets-Birthday Party rock energy of earlier Old Time Relijun with de Dionyso’s more experimental leanings.
de Dionyso directed Reak: Trance Music and Possession in West Java, a documentary film about the music of an Indonesian trance ceremony; the film was shown by the Olympia Film Society in May, 2016.
He is also a co-founder of the Olympia Experimental Music Festival.
Designer Hedi Slimane incorporated de Dionyso’s drawing “Dragons and Angels in Deep Conversation” in various fashions as part of the Yves Saint Laurent 2015 collection.