Calling out of Context

Calling out of Context

by Arthur RussellArthur Russell


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By all accounts, Arthur Russell was a difficult guy, a classically trained cellist with a background in avant-garde (he collaborated with John Cage) and Eastern music (he studied Indian classical composition with Ali Akbar Khan) whose perfectionist tendencies led him to remixing his own work ad infinitum. But the Iowa native's genre-blending music was anything but difficult, threading funky art-rock, nascent house, cool soul, and intimate poetry with rubbery rhythms reminiscent of Talking Heads and melancholy melodies suggesting New Order. Russell died of AIDS in 1992, at age 40, and outside of a few anthologized singles, his recordings have gone largely unheard. Enter Calling Out of Context, a cream-of-the-crop collection of a dozen unreleased tracks Russell produced between 1985 and 1990. They range from the spare, mesmerizing "The Platform on the Ocean," built on an eight-minute drone and plied with layered vocal fragments, to the funky blue-eyed soul of "Make 1, 2," which joins electronic and acoustic percussion, cello saws, and trombone moans. Even as Russell makes the most of his worldly knowledge of music and instrumentation, the heart and soul of these songs reveals his fascination with disco -- his singles "Is It All Over My Face?" and "Go Bang" (not included here) were, in fact, early disco classics. With its programmed beats and Russell's intimate vocals, the sensual "You and Me Both" could be a Pet Shop Boys bedroom recording, while the effusive "That's Us/Wild Combination" joins propulsive beats with a winsome synth melody and love-song lyrics. Russell's multifarious music is by nature hard to define, but even in retrospect, it's as easy on the ears as it is singular in sound.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/17/2004
Label: Audika Records
UPC: 0880301100124
catalogNumber: 10012
Rank: 48794

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