“Music is a very personal thing. How you deal with your music is very closely linked with how you deal with your life. If you misuse your capacities as a musician, you’re misusing your capacities as a human being and you’re taking humanity in the wrong direction” – Arthur Russell – 03/17/77 Soho Weekly News
“In outer space you can’t take your drums – you take your mind” – Arthur Russell
In 1986 Arthur Russell was diagnosed with HIV, that same year he released his career-defining masterpiece World of Echo, the first and only solo album issued during his lifetime.
Arthur had found his voice and a fresh direction with a set of new, transformative material, unlike anything he or anyone else had previously released. His illness ensured that the artistic growth and sense of exploration encapsulated in World of Echo would be tragically curtailed. Within six short years Arthur was gone.
Arthur’s final years were filled with a renewed commitment to creativity and unceasing live and recording work. He regularly performed the World of Echo material and incorporated several of its compositions in collaborations with choreographers active in New York’s innovative dance community. Arthur worked closely with Diane Madden, Allison Salzinger, Stephanie Woodard and John Bernd, usually playing his cello and effects boxes off stage as the choreographers’ pieces were performed. In 1993 Arthur posthumously received a prestigious Bessie Composer Award for his work in the dance world.
Picture of Bunny Rabbit features nine previously unreleased performances from this era compiled from completed masters culled from two unique test pressings, including one, dated 9/15/85 by Arthur, provided by his mother and sister. A further four tracks were discovered in his tape archive. The track listing includes an exceptional and dramatic solo recording of “In The Light of a Miracle” and the enigmatic title instrumental “Picture of Bunny Rabbit”, written especially for a friends pet rabbit. The bulk of the material was recorded with engineer Eric Liljestrand at Battery Sound Studios, New York, which was located directly opposite the World Trade Center and at Arthur’s apartment studio in the East Village.