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A Renaissance Man Revisited; 'Context' Offers an '80s Sampling of Arthur Russell's Many Callings
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Rock music; Musical recordings -- Russell, Arthur
Author: Richards, Chris
Date: Jan 19, 2005
Start Page: C.05
Section: STYLE

Nearly all of Russell's songs coast over drum machine beats, and they often come wrapped in a hazy blur of cello, keyboard and gentle singing. One exception is "You Can Make Me Feel Bad," a rare moment of shoulder-shrugging melancholy in which only Russell's voice aches alongside the distorted scrapes of his cello.

As teenagers and/or classically trained cellists are wont to do, Russell got the heck out of his native Iowa in the early '70s. After making a pit stop in San Francisco (where he studied Hindustani music and became friends with Allen Ginsberg), Russell dropped anchor in New York City in 1973. Before long, he was rubbing elbows in the downtown scene, collaborating with Philip Glass, Rhys Chatham and David Byrne, among others.

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