on 11 January 2005
World of Echo is simply astonishingly beautiful. The sound Arthur Russell creates is incredible - a shimmering, reverberating, almost tangible noise. Someone described Arthur Russell's music as Nick Drake meets New Order. Not a bad attempt to describe the man's music.
Although Arthur Russell's disco stuff is fantastic dance music, I personally prefer music of this ilk - quiet, meditative, almost melancholic (perhaps this is the result of the time he spent in a buddhist commune). Songs like "Let's Go Swimming" aren't so much a song as a glorious idea modelled by sound.
The album is essentially an exploration of echo in its various forms (Arthur explains his philosophical concepts of sound in the sleevenotes). To me, it is a great analogy. I find that the wavering notes emitted from Arthur's electric cello are released and then dragged back into place by the beat - like an echo. The structure and rhythm of the songs seems to reflect the sound itself - as opposed to mixing echoes with plosive beats and rigid song structures.
I cannot praise this album highly enough - I was afraid to write this review in case I had not evaluated its genius properly, or in case I deterred people from buying it. I hope I haven't and I hope you buy this great album. I may have ill-described the album, but I am fairly certain that it is a masterpiece, in some shape or form.
If you don't have any Arthur Russell albums, I would recommend that you buy this album simply to hear it. The sound created is incredible - if you enjoy ambient music, I'm sure you will enjoy this. If you already have Arthur Russell's other albums I imagine that you will buy this album regardless, or perhaps you already have it and are idly seeing who gave it 5 stars. Well - someone had to.
I bought this purely on a whim - the shop I was in seemed to be very keen on Russell and were selling this for just a fiver, so what was not to like. Fortunately, for once my intuitions were right and this turned out to be a beezer of an album. I was trying to think of the best way to describe it, given that the washes of luminous reverb and echo that cover Russell's voice and cello render it pretty unclassifiable. The closest I can get is to say its like Nick Drake singing over fragments of Lou Reed's Street Hassle. It really is that good. I'm not saying that it will be everybody's cup of tea, but for anyone looking for beauty bound in the most original of forms, this is for them.