Album Reviews

Album Review: Jon Hassell - Seeing Through Sound/Pentimento Vol 2 (Ndeya)

Produced in partnership with Elsewhere.co.nz

Graham Reid
Jon Hassell - Fearless

The sequel to trumpeter/sonic experimenter Jon Hassell's 2018 album Listening to Pictures/Pentimento Vol 1 is a further exploration of territory which Hassell had previously considered Fourth World music: a kind of self-defined area which includes ambient music, allusions to tribal chants or ritual music, low and surreptitious electronica, and evocative soundscapes of synths and soft trumpet.

Young Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell

Hassell's albums are rarely like anyone else's and while he came to attention on Brian Eno's Obscure label in the early Seventies and subsequently worked with Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel, he largely created his own sound which has seen him on the ECM jazz imprint and crafting his own whispery, intimate albums on his own label.

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Jon Hassell - Dream Theory In Malaya

His Dream Theory in Malaya (1981) is an Essential Elsewhere album.

This time out the journey seems darker and more uneasy, the piano part in "Delicado" somewhat threatening in the context of the lengthy, rounded and typically breathy trumpet part. And although some titles suggest the cosmic ("Moons of Titan", "Lunar", "Timeless") if they had been more earthbound and primal (maybe "Undergrowth", "Sarawak" or "The El At Night" perhaps?) those references would have resonated just as much.

"Reykjavik" is a quiet, creaking, two minutes of prepared piano, ambient synths and unexpected electronic sounds which leads into the welcome but short "Cool Down Coda" after.

These atmospheric pieces ("Lunar" requires you accept the moon where your vehicle lies lost is a cold and empty place) evoke states of mind as much as almost physical sensations.

The album title says it all.

Play this with the lights off.

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Released: 24 Jul 2020

Written By: Graham Reid Graham goes to a proper opera every year just to make sure they are still behaving themselves. Otherwise, he's immersed in everything from indie rock and power pop to world music and free jazz. He has always bought cheap'n'trashy secondhand and shiny new vinyl, and his long-running website has literally thousands of music reviews, interviews and overviews. Search parties have been sent looking for those who have got lost in www.elsewhere.co.nz