Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Arthur Russell

I'm completely at a loss when it comes to Arthur Russell's solo works. I admit he made quite a few revolutionary disco tracks, but I do not understand one bit why people are shouting that a profoundly boring record like World of Echo is a masterpiece. I loathed that record, can't put it any other way.

I can just barely tolerate Another Thought, but I guess I just do not like Russell's voice. I know people are going to call his music intimately personal and naked, as if you're in the room with him when he recorded it. All that may be true, but to me, even when he starts building vague calypso symphonies like 'In the Light of a Miracle', it all seems to go nowhere, like a jam that fails to leave any impression whatsoever. It all sounds pretty primitive, contrived and arty in a bad way, like a work in progress that was left at just that.

Calling out of Context comes on as a more thought over collection of songs. At least here you have the impression that he was working towards something instead of injecting his ideas into an artistic vacuum. Here the unfinished aspect (since these tracks were found in Russell's estate after he died) is not as annoying as on Another Thought and World of Echo. You hear that the guy is a genius (yes, I will conceed that) and the record contains quite a few playful and inventive sections. Nonetheless it still remains a rather sketchy compilation of somewhat unrelated tracks, lacking a common thread that would turn it into a proper album. And, even considering the fact that the people who released it have probably left it like Russell would have wanted it, it surely could have benefitted from a better mix. A pity because it's my opinion that Calling out of Context, given a thorough studio overhaul, could have been a genuine masterpiece. Now it feels like a mere curiosity.

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