Arthur Russell - Springfield EP
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Arthur Russell
Springfield EP

Along with the re-released Another Thought and the double-disc First Thought, Best Thought, the Springfield EP is technically the 3rd release of Arthur Russell in the year 2006. With hundreds of tapes in his back catalogue being sifted through and a documentary film being made about his life and music, there seems to be no sign of his posthumous releases slowing down. Mixing some alternate versions of previously-released tracks with several new pieces and a remix from the DFA, this seven song EP picks up right where Russell's more dance-oriented Calling Out Of Context left off.

The forty-minute effort opens with the title track of "Springfield" and there's no downtime as it launches right into a thick, reverbed beat, some cello scrapes, and a percolating synth progressions. Russell's vocals finally enter the mix about halfway through, then disappear again before coming back for a finale with horns. The mix is a bit murky, and in nice contrasting form the DFA completely separate the elements in their mix, highlighting the vocals and instrumentation with more crisp beat programming and mixing.

One of the biggest surprises on the album is the nearly eight minute "See My Brother, He's Jumping Out (Let's Go Swimming)," a reworking (obviously) of the more spectral "Let's Go Swimming" from the World Of Echo release. On the new track, Russell cranks up his disco-pop wonderland and along with some meaty cello stabs and a relentless beat, he throws all kinds of nice touches into the mix and they all work. There are some bongo flourishes, a bouncy bass, and vocals that range from delicate to pitch-bent and completely garbled, but the track progresses in such a logical and downright butt-shaking way that it's hard to argue with.

The last three tracks of the EP are about as mixed as they come and manage to add even more value to the shorter release. Largely instrumental, "Corn#3" (from his abandoned Corn album) is probably the least interesting of the three, although the see-sawing cello work turns some nice phrases over watery field-recordings and stuttery beats, while "Hiding Your Present From You" is a standout, as multiple layers of fuzzy cello, chiming synths, and playful vocals from Russell all swirl together into a mid-tempo charmer . The closer of "You Have Did The Right Thing When You Put That Skylight In" is the odd track out, taking a much more aggressive edge in a piece that moves away from the dancefloor feel of the rest of the EP and into a haunting no wave area lorded over by huge waves of phased cello and dirty beats that make the somewhat playful lyrics of Russell feel much more foreboding than they should be. Considering the uniformly great quality of his music unearthed to date, here's hoping those mining Russell's material keep finding more outstanding work.

rating: 810
Aaron Coleman 2006-12-07 22:00:46