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Jon Hassell: Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics

Nenad Georgievski By

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Jon Hassell: Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics Some records can be easily identified and defined by the time and the place of their creation, but Jon Hassell's records appear to have a different and opposite effect. His record Possible Musics doesn't give the impression of coming from a certain place, but rather from many places. And this collage approach where he mixed and melded different elements and sounds, belonging to different continents and traditions, into a pan-ethnic sound, with the technology of the first world was named "Fourth World Music," which is the subtitle of this record. After years of working and studying with some of the greatest names belonging to the experimental traditions of the 20th century (composers Stockhausen, Terry Reilly, La Monte Young and singer Prandith Pran Nath) by 1977 he wanted to start a recording career with a sound that that was "so vertically integrated that you were not able to pick out a single element as being from a particular country or musical genre."

Impressed by Hassell's approach to music making, ideas, the record he made in the late '70s Vernal Equinox (Lovely Music, 1978), producer Brian Eno, at the time when he lived in New York, became friends with him and during a highly productive period, he produced Possible Musics, an album which introduced Hassell's breathy, digitally altered trumpet lines to the world. His almost vocal style on the trumpet is abetted by Eno's subtle sounds and sound textures which represent a blend of African, Asian and Western forms. Hassell's distinct sounds and slow building melds with deep-pulsing grooves and sounds. These intriguing sounds merge with the sounds of the trumpet like waves and a wind, and the dark undercurrents suggest a discovery of a distant new world, or a vision of merging the ancient and the new. Hassell, who saw his music as a platform where new social experiments could be conducted and displayed, envisioned a "coffee colored world" where one of the main features was integration and celebration of difference, and he tried to make that happen in his music.

Even now, from this time distance, this music stands as distinct as when it was first released, existing in its own time- space continuum that still intrigues and inspires. It was during this time that the idea of colliding different musical contexts and philosophies in order to create other new worlds out of these collisions. It was Hassell's ideas that inspired the sounds and the ideas behind the next records that Eno was involved in with David Byrne, (most notably the landmark My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (Nonesuch, 1981)), but sadly without his involvement. But the influence of Hassell's ideas and sounds progressed from this place and has significantly influenced various other artists starting from singers David Sylvian and Peter Gabriel to other generations of artists who went to create their own ethno- rhythmic geographies like trumpeters Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvaer.

What this reissue lacks is any outtakes, alternate takes, demos or any other bonus material. It features an insightful interview inside the record sleeves with Hassell and also comes with a CD of the original material. With Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics Hassell tore up all previous existing musical maps and created a dreamlike world filled with brilliantly conceived sound sculptures and plenty of dirt and mud.

Track Listing: "Chemistry; Delta Rain Dream; Griot (Over 'Contagious Magic'); Ba- Benzélé; Rising Thermal 14° 16' N; 32° 28' E; Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud').

Personnel: Jon Hassell: trumpet, Prophet 5 touches on "Delta Rain Dream", "Aular" loop on "Rising Thermal", Arp loops on "Charm"; Brian Eno: background cloud guitars on "Delta Rain Dream", Prophet 5 "Starlight" background on "Ba-Benzélé", high altitude Prophet on "Rising Thermal", rare MiniMoog & treatments on "Charm"; Percy Jones: bass on "Chemistry"; Naná Vasconçelos: ghatam, congas, loop drum; Aïyb Dieng: ghatam, congas; Michael Brook: bass on "Griot"; Paul Fitzgerald: electronics on "Griot"; Gordon Philips: handclaps on "Griot"; Andrew Timar: handclaps on "Griot"; Tina Pearson: handclaps on "Griot"; Jerome Harris: bass on "Ba-Benzélé"; Night Creatures of Altamira on "Rising Thermal"

Year Released: 1980 | Record Label: Glitterbeat | Style: Modern Jazz


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