Arthur Russell, First Thought Best Thought

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Cult hero gets minimal on this riveting release.

Arthur Russell's cult has blossomed since his 1992 death, mostly thanks to his dance-music productions under names like Loose Joints and Dinosaur L, as well as 1986's meditative (and, yes, echoey) World of Echo. But before that, he was a minimalist composer and student of Indian master Ali Akbar Khan, a period more read about than heard before this, Audika's second collection from Russell's vaults. First Thought Best Thought collects two discs of his often wondrous orchestral and instrumental compositions, many of them either only previously available in limited editions; only 320 copies of the hypnotic Tower of Meaning were made the first time around, for example. But the previously-unreleased Instrumentals Vol. 1, which takes up ten tracks, is the real revelation, a ravishing, seamless combination of downtown modernism and the kind of otherworldly avant-pop the Beach Boys were making in the late '60s.