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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Arthur Russell
The World Of Arthur Russell
Soul Jazz

Chuckle if you want to at the endless cycle of rediscovery and revival that churns forward year by year, bringing musical styles back to attention roughly two decades after their first heyday. (It's almost time for the comeback of early industrial, so break out the Nitzer Ebb and Front 242.) But if a reissue can spark enough interest in Arthur Russell to lead to articles in The New Yorker, Slate and The New York Times in the span of a couple of weeks, the whole process is worth it.

In this case, most of the credit for getting the ball rolling goes to Britain's Soul Jazz label, which has compiled and reissued a jaw-dropping amount of great music in the past few years — from Strata East jazz to ESG, Jackie Mittoo to Mantronix, all with sharp packaging and overflowing liner notes.

Born in Iowa, Russell bounced first to San Francisco and then to New York, where the eclectic downtown music scene of the 1970s was the perfect place for a classically trained experimental cellist to fall in love with dance music. He came into the orbit of dance-world figures like Larry Levan, Nicky Siano, and Steve D'Aquisto, who were busy inventing the DJ as we know him today, plus adventurous rock and pop musicians such as David Byrne and Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and leaders of the avant scene such as Philip Glass. Employing boundless curiosity, enthusiasm, perfectionism and a short attention span, Russell wove these strands into music that fits easily into no category except "Arthur Russell."

Probably the best-known Russell song is the free-flowing disco single "Is It All Over My Face," mixed by Levan and credited to Loose Joints, a makeshift band of friends and collaborators. (For those who still think disco is a dirty word, this album is your wake-up call.) Instead of celebrating sex or drugs, as might be expected from the title and the decadent, Studio 54 time frame, the track's few lyrics — soulfully sung over an elastic bass line, pumping four-four beat and warm keyboards — are about the childlike joy of dancing. Joy, excitement and wonder are the most persistent emotions in Russell's music, most obvious on a celebration song like Dinosaur L's "Go Bang!" ("I want to see all my friends at once/ I want to go bang!"), but also present in ghostly traces even in a song that's quite the opposite, such as the quiet "A Little Lost."

In fact, the wonderfully spare "Keeping Up" and "A Little Lost," with only cello to accompany Russell's plaintive vocals, achieve a timeless beauty that the rhythmic tracks, for all their innovation, can't match. Two other releases on the Audika label explore this vein of Russell's music even more extensively: Calling Out of Context, featuring never-released tracks, and the forthcoming reissue World of Echo. The entire late-'70s-early '80s era of pioneering pop and dance music is getting overdue attention these days, from Josell Ramos' film "Maestro," which documents the Gallery, Loft, and Paradise Garage clubs, to the just-published book "Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture 1970-1979." And a double-disc set released last year on Garage Records, Larry Levan Live at the Legendary Paradise Garage, captures the art of mixing in its early days.

Now, on to the next rediscovery ...

by Dave Renard

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