Another Thought
Arthur Russell - Another Thought
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Arthur Russell
Another Thought

Originally released in 1994 on Point Music, Another Thought went out of print like so many other albums before a renewed interest in the work of Arthur Russell made the prospect of a re-release more likely. Other than being remastered and some minor liner note changes, the album has been unchanged, and yet like so much of Russell's work, it still manages to sound fresh twelve years later (and probably roughly fifteen years since it was actually created). Another Thought was actually the first posthumous release from Russell, and despite all the great work that has followed on the Audika label, it's great to have it back in print.

Sure, there are tracks on the release that have been featured in different forms on newer releases (most notably "Lucky Cloud" from World Of Echo and "Keeping Up" from Calling Out Of Context), but Russell himself notoriously reworked his own tracks over and over, seemingly rarely actually finishing a track in his own perfectionist way, while oftentimes leaving several and uniquely outstanding versions of the same track on tape.

In many ways, Another Thought is the most pop-oriented release in the entire Russell catalogue so far. The first half of the release finds tracks structured in very normal ways, with some of his more mainstream sounding instrumentation. "A Little Lost" finds him weaving his usual cello bowing with some nice acoustic guitar and line after line of catchy vocal melodies. The aforementioned "Lucky Cloud" finds him plucking out more rhythmic cello work, but again his vocals dip and climb and veer all over, keeping one step ahead over the course of the two minute piece.

Elsewhere, the six-minute "Keeping Up" is not only one of my favorite songs by Russell, but possibly within my top 20 favorite songs ever. The song is fairly simple musically, with only plain rhythm programming and sparse cello work with vocals, but it's what Russell does with the space that's so magical. His cello moves from dancing, melodic notes to hyper-fuzzy passages that sound like overdriven electric guitar, while the male/female vocal parts (some of them clipped and edited uniquely) and repetitive lyrics push the song forward at a relentless pace. In other places, you can hear the worldly influences (polyrhythms, etc) that bled into his music and tracks like "In The Light Of The Miracle" sound like alternate-universe versions of tracks from Remain In Light by the Talking Heads.

If you've listened to any of his work to date, you know that he had a truly varied range (including everything from dense disco to avant garde cello and voice experiments and almost musique concrete). In that regard, Another Thought might very well be one of the best places in his entire catalogue to start if you haven't yet heard him. It's not as dancy as Calling Out of Context or the Springfield EP, yet it's not quite as obtuse as World Of Echo or First Thought, Best Thought. Some have said that Russell sounds like Nick Drake if he had a cello and some effects instead of a guitar, and that description isn't too far off. It's amazing, heartbreaking, inspiring music.

rating: 8.510
Aaron Coleman 2007-01-04 21:13:41