A certain level of mysticism surrounds conversations about the cellist, vocalist, composer, and electronic music frontiersman Arthur Russell. He’s the understated phantom father of oddball post-modern experimentalists, and there isn’t a corner of the eclectic New York music scene that hasn’t been touched by Russell’s shadow. Whether or not you know his music, you can certainly name a handful of musicians who counted him as an influencer on-high in the years following his death from AIDS-related causes in 1992. The name of James Blake’s label, 1-800-Dinosaur, is assumed to be a nod to Russell, and just this past weekend, RBMA and Brooklyn Academy of Music put together a Russell tribute show that featured performances from Dev Hynes, Cults, Rubblebucket, and more. Last year, Sufjan Stevens, Robyn, José González, Hot Chip, and dozens more contributed Russell covers to a compilation titled Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell, which benefitted the Red Hot Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture. Knowing his titanic legacy, it comes as no surprise that there’s a record label entirely dedicated to pressing Russell’s unreleased works posthumously. Steve Knutson founded Audika Records in 2004, and has since compiled Russell’s polished and not-so-polished pieces into a series of albums: Calling Out Of Context, First Thought Best Thought, Love Is Overtaking Me, to name a few. Corn is Knutson’s latest endeavor, a series of songs and improvisations as diverse as Russell’s short but prolific, genre-spanning career. Listen to Corn below.
Corn is out 6/9 on Audika.