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Arthur Russell - Calling Out Of Context 2004 - WITH REVIEWS torrent

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Arthur Russell was a formally trained cellist and composer with a background in Indian classical music, and a résumé highlighted by collaborations with Allen Ginsberg and Philip Glass. His involvement in Manhattan's downtown performance scene of the '70s resulted in a long-running association with the Kitchen. The same Arthur Russell was also a quirky songwriter, a producer of one-shot disco singles, a founding partner of seminal hip-hop/dance label Sleeping Bag, and a principle designer of the dubby, underground club sound that bridged the gap between the disco era and the first stirrings of house and garage music. Yet, despite a career that seemed contradictory on the surface, he produced a body of work notable for its focus, integrity, and singularity.

Like Another Thought, released ten years prior, Calling out of Context stitches together an hour's worth of songs left behind by the late, increasingly known — and therefore unceasingly beloved — Arthur Russell. According to liner notes from Audika's Steve Knutson, the content here pulls from a finished 1985 album that never made it past the test-pressing phase, along with an unfinished LP that was recorded and toyed with throughout the latter half of the '80s and the dawn of the '90s. Despite the multiple sources, the consistency of the tracks — which all carry a hazy, memories-of-events-that-never-happened feel — and the sympathetic sequencing make the disc seem more like a proper album than a vault-clearing compilation. If you're familiar with the sound that Russell and his accomplices made on singles like "Let's Go Swimming" and Indian Ocean's "School Bell/Treehouse," you'll be familiar with the sound here. On these recordings, Russell (who plays cello, guitar, keyboards, and percussion) is joined primarily by Mustafa Ahmed and Peter Zummo, and the three of them produce an abstract cross between pop and R&B, constructed with drum machines and more organic instrumentation on top. None of these songs woo a crowd of dancers as so many of Russell's short-lived aliases did before; instead, they're more rooted in song-based pop. This goes for the structure of the tracks, and it also goes for the subject matter of the lyrics. One of the greatest joys of listening to these songs is the regular presence of Russell's gentle, somewhat timid voice, which delivers one heartwarming line after another. If you're thinking this might possibly resemble a shoestring-budget, avant-garde version of Jam & Lewis, you're not too far off. With the many hats Russell wore, Calling out of Context should hammer home the fact that he was also a dynamite writer of heart-on-sleeve love songs — not just a formidable cellist and innovative disco producer.

- allmusic.com

"If Nick Drake had lived long enough to make records with New Order, they might have sounded like this".

David Fricke, Rolling Stone

Living with a terminal disease separates you from the rest of the human race (despite the fact that, as one writer once put it, “Once you’re born the gun is cocked”). The action of finishing things, under these circumstances, is one fraught with the eventual realization that you, too, will soon be finished. When Arthur Russell died, he left approximately 1000 tapes of music and 1000 pages of lyrics, in varying states of completion behind. Many of these tapes contained the same songs, completed in a variety of ways, allowing for the possibility of different endings. Calling Out of Context is a compendium of “finished songs”, from Russell’s Corn album (of which three very different versions exist), and unfinished songs from an album that he was recorded for Rough Trade from 1986 to 1990.

For an album recorded over such a length of time, the songs sound remarkably cohesive together. Many of Russell’s main musical concerns are present here: the beauty of echo, the cello and a stiff disco beat all are ever present in this recording, proving Russell’s avant disco to be far ahead of its time. The album begins with a short instrumental that mixes keyboard, cello and trombone—the disorienting nature of each element answering, seemingly, to its own rhythm is lessened by the overall beauty of their construction. “The Platform on the Ocean” comes next, setting out the thesis for much of the album. Russell uses the echo effect on his voice, rendering it no less intelligible, but allowing himself to come to the listener from two or three different places at once. The strict backing is not exactly a disco beat and not exactly post-punk, but lies somewhere in between the two.

Russell is perhaps at his best, and most accessible, on songs in which he combines the effect of all three elements into one track, amid a healthy does of melodicism. “Arms Around You” uses Russell simplistic lyrics to great effect, allowing the power of the keyboard and drum machine to carry the track, making each minor change in the song of grave import. The next song, “That’s Us/Wild Combination”, is equally as memorable, introducing a melody in the first seconds and then abandoning it, only having it reappear later in the piece triumphantly merging with the song. Light and airy, the song typifies Russell at his best, weaving in between the sound of his own voice and the disease that was slowly killing him.

There is rather little to be said about the prestige Russell has enjoyed among music fans and listeners in the past few months. Criminally overlooked for far too long, Russell is finally getting his due with this and Soul Jazz’s own compilation of his work in the span of only a few months, cementing the fact that Russell was a genius—never to be recognized in his own time, but to be enjoyed by generations to come.



Only the disco scene of the early seventies could have accepted a true outsider like Arthur Russell, disco’s greatest auteur. An Iowa-born cellist, he came to New York via a Buddhist commune in San Francisco and found his calling on the dance floors of downtown nightclubs like the Gallery and Paradise Garage. Two new compilations—The World of Arthur Russell and Calling Out of Context—wrestle with Russell’s wild, weird legacy, an improbable mix of folk, classical, soul, and Buddhist chants that was almost always captivating and occasionally even pop. The poet Allen Ginsberg once called it “Buddhist bubble-gum music.”

“West makes autobiography universal in a way that hasn’t really been heard in hip-hop since the mid-nineties.”

This is why Calling Out of Context is a revelation. Russell was far more at ease fusing his interests on the unreleased tracks that make up Calling Out, smartly curated by longtime admirer Steve Knutson, and like a good Buddhist, he did more with less. Russell crafts hypnotic sonics (tabla playing, a serrated keyboard sound) that are repeated over and over or simply held steady—and the effect is something like an electronic om. His strange vocals work better, too; on his original tracks, his high-pitched and slow delivery often sounded affectless, soft-rock-like, but here they help Russell dissolve into the music.

This music was always a dive into oceanic sounds, but the songs of Calling Out make his need to get lost all the more explicit. Whether it’s a literal dip in the water (“The Platform on the Ocean”) or Russell simply losing himself in love, Calling Out is music not as escape but as transcendence.

- New York Magazine

Artist: Arthur Russell
Album: Calling Out Of Context
Date Of Release: 2004
Genre: AlternaPop, Artrock, Electronic
Bitrate: VBR --alt-preset extreme

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