Boomkat Product Review:
Perhaps one of the least well-known, yet most sought-after Arthur Russell recordings, the orchestral Tower of Meaning (1981), conducted by Julius Eastman, was effectively the first long player to bear Arthur’s name at the top. Beyond the original edition of 320 copies and an inclusion on the First Thought Best Thought reissue in 2006, it has been out of print ever since, so this new Audika issue is pretty much essential.
The transcendent, fleeting original was written for, yet rejected by, Robert Wilson’s production of the opera Medea. Subsequently remixed for its 1983 release on Chatham Square Productions, Tower of Meaning was broken down to a side of six fragments, breathtaking in their near medieval, chamber-like economy and shocking punctuation, plus the seamless, slow-moving and beautifully entrancing 21 minute mix.
If you’re familiar with only Arthur’s disco works, and/or his chamber-pop pieces, you are very much primed to fall head over heels for this; which is possibly a more challenging listen, but richly rewarding in return. And for a lot of Arthur fans who’ve had this on their wants list, for like, forever: happy birthday!