Jon Hassell: Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street (2009)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
One of the most significant American composer/musicians of the late twentieth century, Jon Hassell, has served as a synthesist, catalyst, and eventually a sound painter and innovator. He has, over the course of his career, unleashed a stunning new vocabulary that still resounds today in the playing of artists including Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, Paolo Fresu and Erik Truffaz and a plethora of electronic music adventurers such as Orb, Howie B, and Tricky.
By drawing on aspects of music from Africa and Asia, he continually fashions a new model that he's named Fourth World Music. It is an innovative world of sounds,blending different ethnic styles with electronic techniques that, at the same time, evoke both the primitive and the futuristic. Ever since his first releases in the early 1970s his music has hovered on a spectral plane somewhere between ambient, tribal, jazz, classical and electronic music. Hassell has fashioned some of the most beautiful, mysterious and crucial recordings of this era.
Each album is a continuation in his exploration of new sonic landscapes, and Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street is pretty much in the same vein. The title was inspired by a poem from the 13th-century Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi. On first listen, Last Night might not seem that different from other recent efforts, but successive listens enhance the simple spaciousness that permeates these ten tracks. Hassell's playing is immediately recognizable for its combination of fierce emotion and breathy texture, extracting sounds that are quite unlike anything heard from the trumpet. Here he creates a rich blend of compositional textures of subtle collages that gently ripple through the senses.
The album has all the trademarks of his previous work. Hassell exploits the sounds and compositional techniques that he continues to refine: long, slow melodies drawn out of overtones and partials; implied subtle rhythms built from pulses of electronic tones, third-world percussion, samples, and flowing sheets of synth sounds. Hassell and his collaborators embark on a languid sound odyssey with an invitingly hypnotic atmosphere, where conventional perceptions of the passage of time are temporarily suspended. In his own words, Last Night is described as "a continuous piece, almost symphonic, with a cinematic construction."
With every new release Hassell proves that he is a master sound painter. There's no need to classify his music as there are no maps for the territories in which he is heading. Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street is one of those rare albums that can actually broaden the horizon of the senses.
Track Listing: Aurora; Time and Place; Abu Gil; Last Night the Moon Came;
Clairvoyance; Courtrais; Scintilla; Northline; Blue Period; Light on
Personnel: Jon Hassell: trumpet (1-4, 6, 8-10), keyboard (3, 6); Peter Freeman:
bass (1-6, 8-10), percussion (2), guitar (7), samples (9); Jan Bang:
live sampling; Rick Cox: guitar (1, 2, 4, 7, 9), strings (4); Jamie
Muhoberac: keyboard (1, 2, 4, 9), drums (4, 9); Kheir Eddine M'Kacich:
violin (2-5, 7); Pete Lockett: drums (2); Eivind Aarset: guitar (3, 8-
10); Helge Norbakken: drums (3, 8, 10); Thomas Newman: strings (4);
Dino J. A. Deane: live sampling (6, 7); Steve Shehan: percussion (6,
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Beyond Jazz