During the months which Another Thought
was created, Arthur Russell was contrastingly withering away. Russell was heartbreakingly diagnosed with AIDS after the release of 1986's World of Echo
, and the famously prolific artist was finally, unfortunately hindered from making music, from living his well-earned and much-appreciated livelihood, basically. But not prevented: not even full-blown AIDS, not even nasty side-effects like fuck
ing throat cancer, not even the chemo could stop Russell from making music. Thus, Another Thought
That's the heartbreaking story behind this record, released posthumously as a last hurrah to Russell's twisted, complicated legacy, before he drifted unfairly into obscurity until a resurgence came about many years later. There's also the music. Another Thought
looms far and above World of Echo
and all of those recently released compilations as the archetypal Russell record, one that blends all of Russell's different guises into one cohesive whole. It's his accidental masterpiece.
Much of Another Thought
is filled with the icy, fragile cello textures that filled World of Echo
, which perfectly accent Russell's cavernous, yet gentle voice, sounding ripped apart by pain and emotion on every track. That cello is key, and is important to why Another Thought
sounds so delightfully otherworldly. A guitar would be too exacting, see: Russell's cello is instead meandering and varied, ranging from the wall-of-sound of "Keeping Up" to the swift, bouncy melodies of "This Is How We Walk On the Moon", without ever losing the same ghostly, nightly aesthetic that the entire album carries, like blues for the anxious, insomniac sort. And with a cello.
That isn't to say Another Thought
is same-y, though, or ever runs together. Songs vary from drifty and abstract ("Home Away From Home"; "Losing My Taste For the Nightlife") to danceable and fun ("Me For Real"; "In the Light of the Miracle"), some even finding Russell shedding the cello for the kind of synthetic "mutant disco" he specialized in the early days of his career. But alas, Russell's vocals are as downcast and reverberate with as much echo here as they do on the darker moments of the album, being those moments where it's just him and his cello, when you get that mental picture of him wasting away, working on his album he'll never actually finish. It's like he's fuck
ing drowning in it, the echo, it seems; almost like he just can't escape.
And I like that. Artists like Dan Snaith (Caribou) must like that too, as his recent Swim
hits a lot of the same moods and feelings that Another Thought
hits. That feeling, in particular, being where you always feel there's just something darker lying underneath, an ominous notion brought upon by the production, by the vocals, by whatever. It's what makes Another Thought
more than just a singer-songwriter album, more than just a disco album, or a electronica album, or some sort of avant-garde, performance art, Downtown music sort of thing. No, it's something else, entirely and totally. And, crazier yet, Another Thought
is merely an incomplete work; there was perfecting
to be had here, somehow. "It's all so unfinished"" The mind boggles.