Arthur Russell was a multi-talented musician/composer/producer/genius, whose work was mostly unappreciated during his lifetime. He was a gifted cellist, as well as disco producer, and began releasing music in the late 1970's under the guise of a group named Dinosaur L. His first tracks were a uniquely loose, funky take on dance music, but his work would go on to include solo cello and vocal singer/songwriter material and even minimalist orchestral pieces. Russell died tragically in 1992 from AIDS in New York City.
The 2006 album Springfield collects previously unreleased work, as well as early versions of songs already available on other Russell releases. This album highlights Russell's electro-dub dance music persona, and finds the title track in three versions, one of which is an awesomely appropriate remix by the DFA (James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem). Musically, there is a discernible 80's synth-drum sound to much of the percussion, as well as synth-horns, ominous cello basslines, and Russell's fragile vocals. It is an oftentimes beautiful mix, with Russell's muffled voice floating over the churning, electronic rhythms. This music is timeless and highly enjoyable, and definitely some of the most interesting stuff released this past year. Hopefully this will inspire you to pick up some other Russell releases. Good places to start: Calling Out Of Context, World of Echo.
Stream "Springfield (Detail)"
Arthur Russell Links:
The New Yorker