Two years ago, Jon Hassell made more than a few jaws drop with "Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume 1)", the genre-bending trumpeter and composer's first studio album in nine years. On that album, he effortlessly updated his trademark "Fourth World" sound - a decidedly cosmic, impossible-to-pigeonhole mix of traditional, otherworldly, exotic and cutting-edge sounds - for a new era. He takes a similar approach on this "companion album", somehow fusing experimental jazz, disparate global sounds, ambient, electronica and digi-dub in a myriad of thrilling, boundary blurring ways. It's a startling piece of work and one that defiantly rewards repeat listens, but then we expect nothing less from someone of Hassell's skill and standing. Recommended.
Record Of The Week W31 by Rogier Oostlander.
Earlier this year ambient pioneer Brian Eno wrote a note on behalf of fellow innovator Jon Hassell, who had ‘fallen on hard times due to long-term health issues’, setting up a GoFundMe page in order to ‘obtain a ‘safe and sustainable living situation’ (you can check it out and donate here: https://gf.me/u/yjru8n).
In his letter Eno, who worked with him on his monumental breakthrough album ‘Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics’ calls Hassell ‘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.’
At 83 (!) his innovative spirit and desire to push musical boundaries is still what makes Hassell a unique force, creating one-of-a-kind material like 2018’s stunning ‘Listening to Pictures’ (the first part of Pentimento) and his beautiful new album ‘Seeing Through Sound’ (the second part). No small feat, considering his fragile health and the fact that he’s been composing groundbreaking music since the early seventies, working with anyone from David Sylvian to Talking Heads.
‘Seeing Through Sound’ has Hassell once again exploring new pathways through a vast forest of both worldly and otherworldly soundscapes, moods and spheres. The characteristic sound of his modified trumpet is both strangely familiar and distinctly out of this world on this exceptional album that uses elements of ambient, dub, minimal music, sound manipulation, electronica, world music (for lack of a better term) and jazz to create a parallel dimension that makes total sense in Hassell’s universe - a Fourth World that’s only accessible to those who are truely willing to listen. (RO)