Calling out of Context
This week’s sounds of the week we have the eclectic Arthur Russell. I came across the ’08 documentary Wild Combination: A portrait of Arthur Russell by Matt Wolf last week and was so surprised by what I saw. I was even more surprised by what I heard. Through a mirage of different home videos, clips from the artist’s past, and photos served as the introduction to a musician who seemed to embody what it meant to be a creator. In the documentary it was made clear that Arthur’s life revolved around music and the creation of sound. From the instrumentation to the signature echo in his voice, all aspects of his music involve a wild combination of sounds. Sounds that turned into songs which captured intimate and feeling driven moments in the artist’s life.
As I write I am listening to the Calling out of Context album, released posthumously by Arthur’s estate in 2000. An original compilation of sounds from what appears to be a multitude of sources, the 1 hour project takes you through seemingly honest renditions of the artists’ thoughts and experiences at a point in time. My favorite song from this album is That’s Us/Wild Combination. I really like how simple the songs appear at first, but once I listened a few times the layers to the song became apparent. The nuance of his singing, paired with the unpredictable melody, created a sound like none that I have heard before. One minute into the song I find myself dancing along to lyrics like:
Hard as I can be, it's never too hard With this our love to see, by it's own light Love inside of me, it's working at night
The sentiment of feeling love for another and ones self is relatable and touching to hear. This was a cool introduction to an artist I’ll be listening a lot going into this new year. It’s fascinating to learn how he created an abundance of music during his time. All despite not being chosen as a mainstream artist of his generation. A real testament to following ones passions in life with a faith that may appear blind to some, but at heart is what you came here to express in a way that is true. Thank you Arthur Russell, a truth sharer and inspiration to all artist out there. And Thank you Matt Wolf for making the film that brought this sound to my awareness.
Give it a listen for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Love and Sunshine, Peace