Jon Hassell -- Classic Or Dud?

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That's right: everybody's favorite player of the mosquito. Or vacuum cleaner, rather. Trumpetista extraordinaire, Hassell seems like some kind of genius or at least a guy who knew how to promote his unique schtick. Of the Hassell records proper I know, Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics basically sets the table for the rest of the decade: African and Latin percussion (some electronic), richly-textured synthesizer pads and sometimes ambient sounds, with Hassell's trumpet modally surveying the landscape, itself electronically altered. Power Spot (on ECM, no less) is maybe less subtle, but more rhythmic in some ways, with the succintly-named The Surgeon of the Nightsky Restores Dead Things by the Power of Sound, recorded live, following in the same vein. Voiceprint, I didn't like so much.

As for his work as a sideman, love him on Remain In Light and he's great on the Words For the Shaman Sylvian EP.

And as a side note, while everyone was consumed with fury accusing My Life In the Bush of Ghosts of cultural imperialism, for reasons unknown to mankind, Possible Musics escaped such criticisms and ended up being one of the most highly-regarded albums of Eno's career. Interesting.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:10 (fifteen years ago) link

He's good but there's no need to exagerrate his achievements. I really like the album with Eno, but even there, I often find his approach to rhythm too rigid and less sophisticated than the what actually goes on in the music of the cultures he emulates. (Of course, I don't like the rhythmic approach of most so-called "dance music" very much either, so this may just be another example of me being out of step with the times.) Anyway, I tend to find the rhythmic percussion (conventional or electronic) side of his work the least satisfying.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:25 (fifteen years ago) link

love the 808 State remix of Voiceprint, weird soft spot for Empire, don't know the other stuff but time i heard more perhaps

the neurotic awakening of s (blueski), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:26 (fifteen years ago) link

steve, I bet you would like Dream Theory in Malaya for the very rhythmic qualities that I don't like, or at least am ambivalent about. I still kind of like it though.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:31 (fifteen years ago) link

hey matthew i wasn't accusing eno at all. i like that record and used to love it. i also love "dream theory in malaya".

what does everyone think of "fascinoma" where hassell goes to lengths to record himself and the bad without treatments? even has a version of nature boy.

gaz (gaz), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:32 (fifteen years ago) link

favorite two besides Possible Musics are Vernal Equinox and Flash of the Spirit, but every album from 1977 to 1988 gets five stars from me. (except maybe for Power Spot). the Eno ambients rarely make it off the shelf anymore but I'm still listening to these regularly.

some people love the techno/pop fusion experiments of City and Dressing for Pleasure, they're not bad commercial music, but the drum machine & techno sounds bind them to the time, unlike the earlier records.

great discography at the website - http://www.jonhassell.abelgratis.co.uk/HTML/discs1.html

(Jon L), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I like bits and pieces of Fascinoma. My favorite is a track (I forget the title, but I've probably given it before) with Jacky Terrason (sp?!) tearing it up on the piano. The whole thing reminds me a bit of parts of Sun Ra's Other Planes of There.

(I(I(I(I think I've said all of this before.)before.)before.)before.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:38 (fifteen years ago) link

(Yes, I regularly have trouble spelling "exaggerate.")

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:40 (fifteen years ago) link

>I tend to find the rhythmic percussion (conventional or electronic) side of his work the least satisfying.

if you're talking about City and Dressing for Pleasure, I'm with you. the drum machines dominate. there are some fantastic percussionists on his other records though, have you heard Flash of the Spirit? 10 piece percussion ensemble from Burkina Faso...

(Jon L), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:50 (fifteen years ago) link

Actually I wasn't thinking of those, which I haven't heard, except maybe for a track here and there. Even on the Hassel recordings I like, the rhythmic side of it feels weak. I am not familiar with Flash of the Spirit though.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:53 (fifteen years ago) link

On the other hand, after I wrote the first thing I wrote, I realized that I don't actually know anything about the music from many of the cultures he has drawn from.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 11 August 2004 23:57 (fifteen years ago) link

And neither did Eno or Hassell!

No, seriously -- I've always wondered if the more "traditional" rhythm beds and generally obtuse textures of Possible Musics saved it from MLITBOG's fate.

Milton, I always liked Power Spot -- more driving rhythms and all. What's your beef?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 12 August 2004 02:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Docked one star for the DX7 presets. I'd feel the same about Tallis if he'd added even just one kazoo to 'Spem In Alum'. It's still a good record.

Rockist has a point about the occasional stiff rhythm on some of these records, but this music is primarily about impossible texture & references to things that almost don't exist, so I don't mind.

(Jon L), Thursday, 12 August 2004 06:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Docked one star for the DX7 presets.

Huh — I consider myself fairly sensitive to those, but never noticed on Power Spot.

this music is primarily about impossible texture & references to things that almost don't exist

Exactly — it's as if no one told them exotica was devoid of substance.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 12 August 2004 12:39 (fifteen years ago) link

odd fact popo pickers

he did the music for the practice

gaylord, Thursday, 12 August 2004 16:29 (fifteen years ago) link

What does that mean?

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Thursday, 12 August 2004 16:35 (fifteen years ago) link

I guess "The Practice" is a show or soemthing. (Give in to punctuation.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Thursday, 12 August 2004 16:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Was an Ally McBeal spinoff about a legal firm from a few years back. For the show's theme they reused the track 'Club Zombie' from Dressing For Pleasure.

I listened to Power Spot again last night, the last two tracks are fantastic... it's not the DX7 sounds, there's just some looped sequences that wear me down a little on some tracks. But the album ends brilliantly, those last two pieces...

(Jon L), Thursday, 12 August 2004 17:08 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll have to put those on.

It occurs to me that it isn't Voiceprint I didn't care for but rather Dressing For Pleasure — I did notice, however, that one track on the latter sampled the section of Miles Davis' "Sivad" (the part that showed up on Get Up With It as "Honky Tonk"). It hit me that maybe he was drawing the comparison a little too obviously with that...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 12 August 2004 18:27 (fifteen years ago) link

This *might* be relevant: http://members.aol.com/blissout/purefusion.htm

's a Simon Reynolds article about multi-culture v. mono-culture and the types of fusion that Hassell, Eno and Byrne were/are undertaking. Fourth World, ahoy!

Sam Benson (Sam Benson), Thursday, 12 August 2004 18:48 (fifteen years ago) link

x-post, that track is 'G-Spot'. the entire album is covered with classic jazz samples cut-up and scrambled over mainstream hip hop drum loops. he thanks his dj/samplist in the liner notes for introducing him to hip hop culture -- it's as if he heard the Public Enemy records, realized they were doing the same things he'd been doing with sampling on Aka-Darbari-Java years before, and consciously decided to make a commercial record by sampling from traditional jazz instead of obscure ethno-field recordings. strange around the edges, but way too tasteful.

City is transitional, first time he introduces outright drum machine sounds to reference uhm 'the City' but at least the rest of the sounds are still abstract, and it's got some good playing... still...

(Jon L), Thursday, 12 August 2004 19:33 (fifteen years ago) link

A lot of times (at least on Fourth World Vol.1, which is the one I know best), Hassell sounds like a very abstract image of "eastern"-soundingness. I hesitate to say anything like this since it's so obvious, but it does kind of interest me. I don't know enough to say, but it doesn't seem like he's actually consistently following any modes here, but there are all of these little gestures that evoke eastern, modal, microtonal music. The way one thing follows another, in the long run anyway, doesn't sound to me like anything you'd hear in, say, Indian (not that I know much about it) or Arabic music; but momentarily it does. Sort of an organic sampling effect. At least, I think that's what's going on. Also, at times his horn sounds more like what would be done with a voice than with an instrument. Without question, this music is good preparation for hearing non-western music (not that that is it's only value--I do like it as it is).

(He has studied Indian classical music though hasn't he?)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:04 (fifteen years ago) link

studied with Pandit Pran Nath a bit when hanging out with La Monte Young (Hassell played on this record as well as many Young bootlegs from that time).

(Jon L), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:16 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't think I knew there was a La Monte Young connection.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Fourth World Vol. 1 I absolutely love, but City was a big letdown. I read about that in Toop's Ocean of Sound and the record didn't come close to living up to his description.

Mark (MarkR), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Does Hassell perform much live? I saw him once a long time ago, probably in the late 80's. It was him and some guy with a frame drum, if I remember correctly, and maybe some other people with electronics. I don't remember too much about it except that it was okay but not mind-blowing.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:19 (fifteen years ago) link

I might listen to that album some more and jot down some notes.

I'm thinking about the way he will frequently finish a line he's playing, with a strong sort of feeling of closure, and then there's often (usually?) some sort of echo effect. You get that sort of sound a lot in Arabic singing, or especially Qur'anic recitation, without effects, just as a result of acoustics.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:23 (fifteen years ago) link

On the other hand, after I wrote the first thing I wrote, I realized that I don't actually know anything about the music from many of the cultures he has drawn from.

you kidder.

(Jon L), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:33 (fifteen years ago) link

I was thinking especially of the African and Micronesian (is that the right category?) sources he's drawn on. The middle eastern stuff I will admit to knowing something about, but only non-technically, and in comparison to other westerners.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Actually, I think that's the point, Rockist. I think milton was onto something when he said it's like "references to things that don't exist." It's all in the suggestion with Hassell, oblique strategies, as it were, hinting at things we recognize but don't fully understand -- a sort of phantom meaning.

Maybe I've had too many whiskey sours this evening, but that's how it sounds to me at this moment.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 13 August 2004 02:10 (fifteen years ago) link

The first time I heard Hassell was at 3am, 1985, on the radio... the previous show had just ended, the next DJ put on 'Charm' without any intro. Imagine listening to that piece for the first time without knowing how long it was going to last, always seemingly winding down and imperceptibly fading out, but then out of nowhere spiraling right back at you full force. I just sat there staring at the speakers for half an hour.

DJ never back announced the piece, either, I didn't find it again for another year...

(Jon L), Friday, 13 August 2004 02:34 (fifteen years ago) link

It's funny you say that -- "Charm" always seems to go on and on. And on. And...on. But for some reason, it's not in a bad way. What is it, you think, that makes Possible Musics such a success compared to the (admittedly very good) others?

BTW, milton, I think you were talking about "Wing Melodies" which has sequences and triggers both -- and digibells to boot. But I like it.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 13 August 2004 02:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Also, while we're at it, we should clear this up: Possible Musics does NOT sound thin.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 13 August 2004 02:48 (fifteen years ago) link

here's the interview: http://www.furious.com/perfect/hassell.html some interesting things about ego wars with byrne and eno. rockist's comments about voice > trumpet were dead on, voice is the original instrument.

Sometimes the first one, Vernal Equinox is my very favorite, it's so minimal; no harmonizer on the trumpet yet, just occasional subtle Buchla. the concept is already there, intensely technological yet primal music.

I like Earthquake Island though some don't, it's very much in the tradition of other 70's jazz fusion records. The harmonizer shows up for the first time. Great band; Rockist, I fully recommend this record if your complaint of the other records involve stiff rhythms. Liner notes: 'Including Nana (Vasconcelos)' Imaginative Percussion'.

Eno set him off on a path towards fragmented, studio-only creations. The three EG records are progressively less about live performance, by Aka-Darbari-Java, apart from one other drummer who was probably sent home after one or two sessions, it's all Hassell & a sampler. I've got it on now, an incredible record, sound of the mirror.

My problem with Power Spot is that it tries to reintroduce live performances, but the sequencers are still leading, and win out, till the very end... Flash of the Spirit is my other favorite because you can tell they started by recording the live band, and the treatments came later...

(Jon L), Friday, 13 August 2004 04:41 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't have much to add other than Fascinoma is the record I put on when I'm a bit anxious and don't know what to do with myself. About five minutes in I find something else to do. It clears out the clutter somehow.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Friday, 13 August 2004 12:04 (fifteen years ago) link

FWIW, I was DJing at a Matmos gig in Cleveland and dropped "Datu Bintung At Jelong" (as you do), and Matmos' MC Schmidt came racing to the decks to declare that Dream Theory In Malaya is his favorite album of all time. This little anecdote represents the zenith of my DJ "career."

Dave Segal (Da ve Segal), Saturday, 14 August 2004 01:25 (fifteen years ago) link

As per that Perfect Sound Forever interview: "Fourth World is an entire week of Saturdays." I love, love, LOVE it. Love it.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:16 (fifteen years ago) link

And "Fourth World means: get yourself a world vocabulary; use it with subtlety and a keen sense of surprise; follow pleasure; trust your intuition (after you're sure you know what that is)."

I want to speak in parentheses...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 14 August 2004 05:19 (fifteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
After listening more attentively to this album (Fourth World. . .) than I usually do, I decided that his horn reminds me of a train horn more than anything else.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Monday, 30 August 2004 10:52 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't mean that as a criticism, though I guess it sounds a little funny to say.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Monday, 30 August 2004 10:52 (fifteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
New one: Jon Hassell Maarifa Street/Magic Realism 2 (City Hall).

RS, Friday, 13 May 2005 19:12 (fifteen years ago) link

wire review made it sound like it's a compilation of live recordings, heavily recomposed in the studio. so, buying it on sight. have you heard it?

it sounds like a modern update of The Surgeon of the Nightsky Restores Dead Things By the Power of Sound (which did the same thing to live versions of things from the 1980-1983 fourth world trilogy).

milton parker (Jon L), Friday, 13 May 2005 19:58 (fifteen years ago) link

have you heard it?

No, no, I just saw it announced, without any details.

RS_LaRue (RSLaRue), Friday, 13 May 2005 21:14 (fifteen years ago) link

http://www.maarifastreet.com/

great site. no sound samples though.

milton parker (Jon L), Friday, 13 May 2005 21:36 (fifteen years ago) link

it sounds like a modern update of The Surgeon of the Nightsky Restores Dead Things By the Power of Sound (which did the same thing to live versions of things from the 1980-1983 fourth world trilogy).

Whaaa??!?

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 14 May 2005 05:21 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, check out Surgeon, it's got a great live version of "Charm"

ok I bought Maarifa Street last night -- it's great. Fuzzy, liquid, and weird again. All the sharp techno edges and slickness of City & Dressing For Pleasure have been dropped, everything's muted and gauzy and mysterious again, although the tracks are still a lot more straightforward than the original trilogy; the rhythmic backing is less alienating & weird, in support for the lead trumpet, but it fits, it works

co-produced by Peter Freeman, who also played bass & laptop in the original concerts. the rhythms are slow & dubby, especially the bass lines; One track samples a dub filtersweep hit from Pole's CD1 for the downbeat (it's such a generic 'dub' sound that I wouldn't have noticed if not for the liner notes).

the album packaging is incredible, a huge sprawling tree filled with dozens of people. when you look very closely, it dawns on you that it's a sprawling multi-racial orgy. it's by Mati Klarwein, same guy who did Earthquake Island & Bitches Brew.

fits the music perfectly, this is an unusually erotically charged album even for Hassell, feels almost awkward listening to this by myself. it's all about the trumpet playing here, and no one sounds like Hassell, I love this record...

milton parker (Jon L), Saturday, 14 May 2005 20:27 (fifteen years ago) link

I must say, I've owned "Fourth World Music Vol 1" for years and after many, many tries found it uncompelling (I'm a fan of lots of Eno ambient stuff; I'd rather listen to the "Apollo" soundtrack)

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 14 May 2005 20:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Milton Parker OTM. Maarifa Street gives me chills in the same way Possible Musics, Dream Theory In Malaya and Aka-Darbari-Java did.

Dave Segal (Da ve Segal), Saturday, 14 May 2005 22:17 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, check out Surgeon, it's got a great live version of "Charm"

I have it -- I just don't think I ever noticed that. That's a fantastic description of the record, btw.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Sunday, 15 May 2005 01:38 (fifteen years ago) link

well they've definitely been made into new pieces, but you can hear some of the same tapes & sounds, and "Brussels" is definitely the new band doing a version of "Charm"

I'd forgotten Richard Horowitz was on Surgeon... have you heard Horowitz & Sussan Deihim's Azax Attra : Desert Equations? that is one classic record, definitely related to the fourth world series...

milton parker (Jon L), Sunday, 15 May 2005 02:10 (fifteen years ago) link

I love it

sciatica, Saturday, 9 June 2018 13:44 (two years ago) link

this thing is great! reminds me a bit of the ambient electronic jazz that Justin Walter has been putting out on Kranky

William Thinkpiece Hackery (NickB), Saturday, 9 June 2018 17:24 (two years ago) link

Received mine yesterday. Wonderful and quiet pressing except for an annoying defect at the end of side 1, a very audible ticking / scuff sound. Anyone else experience this?

Paul Ponzi, Sunday, 10 June 2018 15:30 (two years ago) link

Got this in the mail today and just finished up my first listen now. Wow, what a wonderful turn in sound from Last Night the Moon Came Dropping its Clothes in the Street. That was essentially beatless, where this new one definitely has a rhythmic base, but not quite as defined as Maarifa Street. First impression is that it strikes a perfect balance between the funky backbeats of Maarifa Street and the impressionistic wash of Last Night the Moon Came Dropping its Clothes in the Street. Fantastic.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Tuesday, 12 June 2018 04:02 (two years ago) link

I like this but the drum sounds on "Pastorale Vassant" sound distractingly dated where everything else sounds unattached to any time.

boxedjoy, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 10:08 (two years ago) link

They don't bother me, but I see what you mean. They're mixed pretty low though, and used subtly throughout, so it's not like you're listening to "Come To Daddy" or something

Paul Ponzi, Tuesday, 12 June 2018 12:10 (two years ago) link

It's a mid-90s Wire Magazine wet dream ;-)

I really like it, first four tracks especially so far. Breezes by at <37 minutes.

Absolute Unit Delta Plus (Noel Emits), Tuesday, 12 June 2018 12:55 (two years ago) link

For those that hoped for more in the *Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes* vein, some of that itch may be scratched by Sly & Robbie Meet Nils Petter Molvær feat. Eivind Aarset and Vladislav Delay - *Nordub* (2018).

Chaos reigns... in my pants (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 17:03 (two years ago) link

Caveat, Nordub is really is more of an African Head Charge type album than Fourth World (though I think it would be great at -30% tempo). NP Molvær's past work is closest to a Hassell protege I'm aware of.

Chaos reigns... in my pants (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 17:11 (two years ago) link

This Sly and Robbie is fantastic - thanks for the heads up. Have added to the Sly & Robbie thread.

The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums (Chinaski), Thursday, 21 June 2018 11:31 (two years ago) link

On my first listen, this is wonderful.
Lovely liner notes from Hassell himself. Good to read this: "Finally, I'm pleased to note that this record also marks a valued moment of reconnection with my longtime friend, Brian Eno."

willem, Tuesday, 26 June 2018 06:36 (two years ago) link

What is the connection to Eno here?

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 28 June 2018 02:55 (two years ago) link

No actual/musical connection with this particular album. There's some background on the reconnection in this candid interview with Billboard (and a not so subtle diss on David Byrne :)

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8463129/jon-hassell-interview

But anyway, my lingering scars of being left off any mention of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, that was the clearest evidence that the backroom boys – Brian's managers and David's managers of the time – [were like] "Hold on here, that guy could come after you with a big lawsuit." And I was still in the ivory tower frame of mind and didn't have a structure there. If I had been Ry Cooder and had a management structure, that would have been my harpoon to lance this appropriation. So I wrote a 50-page letter a couple years ago when I was way down on my luck, and I made a big reconnection with Brian, and I would say we're brothers now. And that was a rough patch for me. But that's ironed itself out. I've had zero contact with David, but he's not exactly in the same intellectual class with Brian, so that's not surprising.

willem, Friday, 29 June 2018 09:35 (two years ago) link

Yikes

Karl Malone, Friday, 29 June 2018 14:09 (two years ago) link

what did he contribute to the record? serious question, I never knew he was involved. I guess I could look up the chapter in Rip It Up but I'm at work.

sleeve, Friday, 29 June 2018 14:12 (two years ago) link

five months pass...
four weeks pass...

what did he contribute to the record? serious question, I never knew he was involved. I guess I could look up the chapter in Rip It Up but I'm at work.

According to Hassell, Bush of Ghosts was initially conceived as a trio project and ostensibly a Fourth World effort. But something happened with Hassell’s schedule and by the time he returned to the project realized he’d been nudged out and thought the record was effectively his concept with funk beats. What I don’t totally get is that while Hassell may have had a falling out with Byrne, Eno produced and mixed his records all the way through the 1980s – only Aka/Dabari/Java doesn’t have any Eno involvement at all so I’m not really sure whether they had another falling out or what.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 1 January 2019 15:16 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

jon hassell fucking RULES.

i picked up a nice copy of Power Spot yesterday and it has blown my mind. it's up there with his very best work, if not above it. produced by eno/lanois, recorded in 83 but not really released until 86 (i think)? many of the songs are hypnotic in a way that reminds me of some songs on the francis bebey Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 comp.

Karl Malone, Sunday, 14 July 2019 22:36 (one year ago) link

10 out of 10. five stars. "A Masterpiece", an early Oscar Pick, 6 bags of popcorn, 6 sodas.

Karl Malone, Sunday, 14 July 2019 22:39 (one year ago) link

I give Jon Has.. Jona Hassle.. Jon Has Well's 'Power Spot' five bags of popcorn and an extra bag of popcorn.

(sorry. great album I did not know yet, but digging it thanks to you)

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 21:37 (one year ago) link

Power Spot is indeed very mighty — and quite possibly his most representative album. Like, if you just want one slab of vinyl to represent "What is Jon Hassell?", Power Spot is it.

My overall favorite is still his other ECM album from a few years back; Last Night the Moon Came Dropping its Clothes in the Street.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Wednesday, 17 July 2019 22:33 (one year ago) link

if you just want one slab of vinyl to represent "What is Jon Hassell?", Power Spot is it.


Just by coincidence, yesterday I was daydreaming about this very question, and how I would be unable to answer! I was imagining the goofy feeling of recommending Jon Hassell to someone and then being unable to give them a good starting point. I think I imagined just suggesting they start with Possible Musics so they could go ahead and check out his most well known album and save even better stuff for later. But Power Moves is probably an even better place to start.

Glad you like it LBI! My appreciation for Hassell’s music grows every time I listen

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 22:40 (one year ago) link

you guys checked this out, it rules: https://soundcloud.com/frasconimusic/sets/jon-hassell-group-1982

tylerw, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 22:42 (one year ago) link

I think what marks out Power Spot is that it is a lot tighter and more explicitly rhythmically structured than the albums that precede it (Possible Musics, Dream Theory in Malaya etc.) but still very much exemplifies the ideas he was pursuing on those albums - so if you wanted an album that not only explained Hassell but also his influence on a lot of subsequent music it fulfills that role very handily.

I used to put "Wing Melodies" on a lot of mix-cds alongside stuff like Ricardo Villalobos and O'Rang and Laika and it fit very nicely in that context.

Tim F, Wednesday, 17 July 2019 22:44 (one year ago) link

I like Last Night the Moon most too. Probably because it has a strong dub influence.

полезный идиот (Sanpaku), Friday, 19 July 2019 17:43 (one year ago) link

Of the 3-4 I've heard (including Power Spot, which I like), Listening to Pictures is my favourite. Here's to hoping he'll release another one soon.

pomenitul, Friday, 19 July 2019 17:46 (one year ago) link

eight months pass...

Looks like the sequel will be coming out this summer, called Seeing Through Sound.

So thriled about it — Listening to Pictures is one of my favorite records of all time, and a favorite Hassell record.

(He mentions it at the end of this recent Aquarium Drunkard interview: https://aquariumdrunkard.com/2020/03/05/jon-hassell-the-aquarium-drunkard-interview/)

nikola, Sunday, 29 March 2020 17:54 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

From his website:

Jon Hassell Needs Your Help

Jon Hassell is one of the most influential composers of the last 50 years. His invention of what he called ‘4th World Music’ opened the way for a fresh look at, and deeper respect for, the music of other cultures around the world. His recordings have had a big impact on other musicians, and, through them, have changed musical tastes dramatically. His unique intellectual contribution is also noteworthy: he is a tireless and articulate theorist as well as a great musician.

Jon is going through hard times now. I feel that many of us owe him a debt of gratitude, so perhaps making a contribution to this fund is a way we can thank him.

Brian Eno
London, April 28, 2020


One of the giants of modern music, trumpeter, and composer Jon Hassell has been a true innovator for decades and his influence has been incalculable. Now, at 83, because of long-term health issues, Jon is in a dire position and needs financial assistance to ensure a safe and sustainable living situation going forward. As Jon is in the highest risk group for COVID-19, the urgency of his condition has become even more acute in recent weeks.

To address his pressing needs, we--a group of Jon's family, friends, and collaborators--are reaching out to his audience and fan base around the world to ask for help. If you are a fan of Jon's music, we would greatly appreciate any contribution you can make at this extremely challenging moment. Thank you.

-De Fracia Evans, Uti Cleveland, Taska Cleveland, Rick Cox, Peter Freeman, Dan Schwartz, Robert Walsh, and Luke Schwartz


https://www.gofundme.com/f/jon-hassell-fund

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 3 May 2020 06:17 (three months ago) link

‘Murica.

pomenitul, Thursday, 7 May 2020 16:23 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

New album Seeing Through Sound is out 24th July. Pre-orders are up now, and there's a single (Fearless) out in all the usual places...

bamboohouses, Thursday, 11 June 2020 14:52 (one month ago) link

That's awesome news, doubly so in light of his recent financial troubles and the fact that he's 83!

pomenitul, Thursday, 11 June 2020 14:56 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

https://jonhassell.bandcamp.com/album/seeing-through-sound-pentimento-volume-two

new album is very nice

calzino, Thursday, 16 July 2020 08:05 (three weeks ago) link

Compared to vol. 1, this one felt a little rushed to me, its pieces too blocky to allow for immersion. I need to spend more time with it.

pomenitul, Thursday, 16 July 2020 13:07 (three weeks ago) link

it was recorded during the same sessions as vol 1 fwiw!

calzino, Thursday, 16 July 2020 13:19 (three weeks ago) link

different but not lesser imo

calzino, Thursday, 16 July 2020 13:20 (three weeks ago) link

the "pentimento" in the title that describes scraping paint off to see what an artist originally painted is how he approached this one in the studio apparently, but scraping bits of sound off, which might be what is giving you an impression of rushed?

calzino, Thursday, 16 July 2020 15:34 (three weeks ago) link

I assume he used the same technique on vol. 1, where it worked wonders, but vol. 2 strikes me as more amateurish for some reason (wouldn't go so far as to call it Monkey Christ-ish, though!). I'll give it another spin later today.

pomenitul, Thursday, 16 July 2020 15:38 (three weeks ago) link

I would listen to Monkey Christ - the album!

calzino, Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:48 (three weeks ago) link

I can't stop listening to the new album, I think it's wonderful. Think I might prefer it to Volume 1. Fearless, Moons of Titan and Delicado are up there with his greatest works IMO. I love the smokey, late-night textures dissolved in layer upon layer of electronic processing.

bamboohouses, Wednesday, 29 July 2020 10:36 (one week ago) link

I have no idea whether it is better or worse than vol 1 yet but it is certainly not a disappointment.

Tim F, Wednesday, 29 July 2020 14:19 (one week ago) link

have any of you ever listened to Motohiko Hamase? 80s minimalist/ambient composer, new to me, who was reissued by WRWTFWW earlier this year. very big jon hassell RIYL. i'm still getting a handle on his music, but Anecdote (a live 1987 recording) is one that i can recommend for people on this thread:

https://wrwtfww.com/album/anecdote

The GOAT Harold Land (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 15:12 (one week ago) link

(#Notes of Forestry and Technodrome are the other two being reissued - if anyone has thoughts about them, or knows anything about Motohiko Hamase, i'd love to hear it!)

The GOAT Harold Land (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 15:14 (one week ago) link

New one is pretty different from Vol.1 at first listen but gorgeous all the same!

SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 16:35 (one week ago) link

finally getting to this. strikes me as a lot different from listening to pictures on first impression. much more doodley and. . . idk, jammy? is that an okay word to apply to this music? in any case, i'll need to sit with it a bit more, but it's new jon hassell music, so i'm happy.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Wednesday, 29 July 2020 19:42 (one week ago) link

Notes of Forestry is super good as are Reminiscence and Intaglio. These latter two were re-recorded in 2018 and are excellent but I think the original versions eclipse the remade ones. I'm just getting to know Technodrome. It's slightly indebted to house / techno records of that era but actually is perhaps the most Hassell-esque of them all imo.

stirmonster, Wednesday, 29 July 2020 22:10 (one week ago) link

good lord, i listened to technodrome and notes of forestry back-to-back, and i am ruined. what a night

The GOAT Harold Land (Karl Malone), Thursday, 30 July 2020 06:51 (one week ago) link

Listening to this now. FWIW, Andy Beta's (nice) review on Pitchfork says this:

Back in April, Brian Eno started a GoFundMe for Hassell, who as a cancer survivor is at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Hassell is now out of intensive care, but he’s still well short of his fundraising goal, and one wonders how much more music lies ahead for the octogenarian artist.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/jon-hassell-seeing-through-sound-pentimento-volume-two/

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 30 July 2020 13:29 (one week ago) link

Just to say that I think that the new album Seeing Through Sound - Pentimento Volume Two is absolutely brilliant. To me it sounds as if Brian Eno's organic ambient masterpiece On Land had been crossed with Nils Peter Molvaer's groundbreaking electric jazz album Khmer.

walking towards the sun since 2007 (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 4 August 2020 14:24 (five days ago) link

it's the first time a jon hassell album has done anything for me. it has not a lot to do with the first part. in-between a quantum leap has happened. there are these objets trouvès here and there (eg in rejkjavik). those haunting parts like in cool down coda. it's like another green world without the tunes. which obviously is better as it does not use itself up. my album of the year for the time being.

walking towards the sun since 2007 (alex in mainhattan), Thursday, 6 August 2020 20:48 (three days ago) link


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