Arthur Russell Corn Audika
Eleven years on from their Calling out of Context compilation, Audika have emerged from the vaults with another nine cuts from disco’s weirdo-in-chief, Arthur Russell. Corn sees the label continue their work in championing the late virtuoso, with exclusive rights to the man’s archives and estate.
The tracks come from recordings compiled by Russell across three test-pressings in 1985. Whereas Calling… brought the focus on the man’s forward-thinking pop sensibilities, Corn digs deeper, unearthing studio experiments and rhythmic-alternate versions of tracks from across his career, including This Is How We Walk On The Moon, Keeping Up, and two from his World of Echo LP – Lucky Cloud, and Hiding Your Present From You.
Corn is a rich body of work, with examples of all the different energies that Russell brought to the studio. Tracks like Keeping Up are held to- gether by typically minimal arrangements, with only Russell’s effect-heavy cello accompanying the drums. This frees up the space needed to let a quieter voice like Russell’s soar, and lends the rhythm a gentle yet potent urgency.
Meanwhile, Russell’s cello roars like a howling wind over tracks like Corn (Continued) and Hiding Your Present From You. The screeches and growls, brought to life through warm distortion, give the tracks a tortured, bodily voice that’s a thrill to listen to.
Then there’s the curios. They And Their Friends takes us to a startling place, the low grind of the cello rumbling beneath Russell’s unearthly crooning. Most curious of all though is closing track Ocean Movie, a frothy mess of crushed-up percussion and dreamy synth-flutes washing up on the tide of a city in the clouds. On top of this, a guitar pre-dating all things hypnagogic gently drones in earnest. The sound collage serves as the perfect release for the positive tensions that bubble throughout the record.
There are moments on Corn that might just reveal Russell at his most daring. Alive and well in a world beyond our own, his music lures us further into a future that resonates with subtle brilliance and limitless promise.