WORLD OF ECHO, de Arthur Russell (1986)

Special album, with many layers and nuances that take you, if you let yourself, to a world where sound can be touched, to the world of echo.

Kitte opens her blog to dialogue with all those modes of artistic expression that make us feel something, whether or not they belong to the world of plastic arts and design. In this section, Kitte reviews, and incidentally recommends, those musical, literary, cinematographic, performance, etc. works that in one way or another have catalyzed a message that, with the power to move us, can be extrapolated to other currents artistic.

Today we are talking about a record-piece signed by the artist and musician Arthur Russell. This is World Of Echo, an LP of eighteen songs, most of them quite short, released by Upside Records in 1986.

In an article published in Pitchfork magazine a few years ago, Russell’s sound is defined as “pure clay”. As if the artist had taken a block of sound clay and had dedicated himself to “bending it, ripping it, varnishing it, thus leaving some rhythms, harmonies and vocal chords similar to a sculpture to be finished”.

The album, in fact, is a study by the artist on the phenomenon of echo. The echo, like light, seen as a natural element that gives a space an attribute. What does a sound say about a place? Depending on how the sound waves are transported in a defined place and according to the physical elements that fill that space, different things happen, and Arthur Russell saw an infinite beauty in this phenomenon. Normal.

Russell, with his voice and his cello, must have made a pilgrimage through many rooms in the Manhattan underground of the late seventies and in each one of them he would sit to record a part of this album. With this, the artist looked for vibrational differences and, applying the same sound, obtained results that to little trained ears may sound the same, but that actually contain a world of details and nuances.

This crossroads, sound / space, although it is pure physics, does not stop containing a magical element and it is precisely the point on which Russell decided to build his work, obtaining a practically new palette of sounds, sometimes called “etheral music”. With a cello and his voice. Acting as a sculptor.

One tip: listen to the album in one sitting for the full experience.

Aida Belmonte