Saturday, 31 December 2016

Echo of (another) World: The music of Arthur Russell

Like being wrapped in cool clean linen on a warm morning, the light flooding through tall windows, a warm breeze flickering long drapes.

Staring into space at city lights in soft focus. Feet, voices, motors all become a hush. A blanket of people, whispered comfort.

Travelling, head against the seat rest. The view is a blur. Close up you see nothing but streaks whilst the distance is sharp.

Mournful, like the sea. Smoothed over stones, cold water, the air carries an other worldly scent. Things that hurt so deeply but here, they just rest in your chest. They become you, become your breath, the flailing sharp knives of longing and tragedy become becalmed.

Beyond comprehension.

Being warm, watching the rain fall down outside. Insulated.

As snow fall softens every sound.

The music of Arthur Russell always evokes a world of millpond still beauty, a tranquillity and a sense of reflection. It's probably the most open-hearted music I know and there's a something touching about his ability to make a love song sound like a piece of devotional incantation.

There's a simplicity to his work, both musically and thematically that suggests an appreciation of the smaller things, the detail.

Things as they are. Being just who he is. The sense of self in his music is remarkable, he is utterly distinctive yet manages to vocally subsume himself to the textures of the cello, to become invisible, just another layer. Words weave, rise and fall, to listen is to become like a glider held aloft by air currents.

Everything is nothing.