Arthur Russell, “Corn”
The terribly underrated composer and songwriter Arthur Russell passed away in 1992, leaving behind a deeply influential body of work and a cache of demos. His latest posthumous release from the Audika label, Corn, provides nine new, uneven glimpses into the creative process of this lost minimalist icon. Hearing Russell arrange (and rearrange) his songs shines a light on the incredible amount of attention he brought to even his most spartan tunes. Standout tracks like opener “Lucky Cloud” and “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” are present in versions that are similar to—though a bit more drum-machine-heavy than—their original album releases, while Springfield’s “See My Brother Jumping Out (Let’s Go Swimming #2)” is unrecognizable in its Corn iteration. There are moments in these songs in which you can hear the maestro surprising himself on the way to quiet revelations, as in the “Lucky Cloud” line “I see your light / Touch my eyes / And the rest / Is history.” Though it’s not on par with Russell’s true body of work, Corn can be a revealing listen for veteran fans.