The disco experimentalist and avant-garde pop wonder Arthur Russell died in 1992, when he was 40. In life, he remained largely unknown for his entire career. But in the past 15 years, he’s become a tremendous cult favorite, in part because, when he died, he left behind staggering amounts of absolutely beautiful unreleased music.
Today sees the release of Fragments Du Monde Flottant, a new compilation of unreleased demos. Devendra Banhart curated the collection, and it features new-to-us songs from people like Vashti Bunyan, Jana Hunter, Nils Frahm, King Tuff, and Helado Negro. But the comp’s crown jewel is clearly “Not Checking Up,” a previously unreleased Arthur Russell track that, as far as we know, has only existed in demo form.
Russell’s vaults have been raided again and again for reissues, so it’s crazy that something like this song was still sitting in there. It’s a hushed and lovely voice-and-cello track. Russell recorded it in 1985 in New York, and it’s from the sessions that led to the creation of World Of Echo, his spare and haunted masterpiece. Listen to it below.
Fragments Du Monde Flottant is out now on Bongo Joe.