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Ambient - Released March 20, 2020 | Ndeya

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 2, 2014 | All Saints Records

Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Ambient - Released July 24, 2020 | Ndeya

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Jazz - Released April 6, 2009 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet
The strangely beautiful title of Jon Hassell's Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street on ECM is taken from a poem by the great 13th century Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi. The rest of it, in the context of the sound here, is also instructional: "Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street/I took it as a sign to start singing/Falling up into the bowl of sky." Hassell's electronically enhanced trumpet playing follows directly in a line from Miles Davis' experiments of the 1970s. It comes off more as "singing" than anything else. He sounds like no one else, but many trumpet players and sound collagists have been deeply influenced by his work. The "bowl of sky" in the poem is referent, too: it reflects the quality of Hassell's musical montages and sonic investigations. This has been true since the very beginning in the 1970s, but became his trademark "sound" while working with Brian Eno as he developed his "Fourth World" music -- showcased on his EG albums from the early '80s (Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya, Aka/Darbari/Java ) -- and was acutely articulated on his last ECM release, 1985's brilliant Power Spot. Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street is Hassell's first recording since 2005's Maarifa Street: Magic Realism, Vol. 2; it's an assembled montage of sessions recorded in France and Los Angeles, and concerts are also woven into the rich fabric here. Hassell's music, even now, sounds alien, beguiling, mercurial, seemingly formless and airy but full of subtle washes, shifts of tone, and polyrhythmic strategies. The ten cuts here are mostly middle-length pieces that range between five and eight minutes, but three -- "Time and Place," "Clairvoyance," and "Scintilla" -- act as transitions segmenting, however seamlessly, the album into roughly thirds. The band contains a pair of holdovers from his last outing in bassist Peter Freeman -- who doubles on laptop -- and guitarist Rick Cox, who has been augmented by no less than Eivind Aarset on the instrument. The other new players include Jamie Muhoberacon keyboard and laptop, drummers Helge Norbakken and Pete Lockett, Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche on violin, and Jan Bang on live sampling. Together they root and extend the aerial sound of Hassell's trumpet that flows everywhere and anywhere. Check the simple bass and guitar rhythmic attack on "Abu Gil," the album's longest track, where In a Silent Way's "It's About That Time" meets the desert blues feels of "Anouar Brahem" and the Master Musicians of Jajouka meet the noir-ish ambient funk of early Shriekback. The title track, by contrast, is a long, loping, beautiful number where moods of morning, marketplaces, and nocturnal sunsets all loosely entwine around the listener. The obvious postmodern jazz soloist's approach hovers all around the shapes and colors evoked by keyboards and trumpet in "Courtrais," as soundscape, loops, and ambiences all deepen and widen before being grounded by a subtle but unflinching backbone-slipping bassline by Freeman. Hassell moves toward everything -- samples, drifting sonics, hints of melody, and, for such quiet and subtle music, an impressive harmonic palette -- to create a montage that evokes the timelessness of the past with a firm grasp on the unknowable, perhaps even unspeakable, future. His jazzman's sense of time and phrasing is enhanced by his painterly sense of space and shade. This album is further proof that Jon Hassell inhabits a terrain of his own, and reflects the true vibration of poetry as it meets the human ear as something akin to pure sound. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Ambient - Released January 1, 1980 | One Up

Largely thought of merely as a mostly stillborn offshoot of Brian Eno's larger ambient music series, the Fourth World series of albums, in collaboration with trumpeter Jon Hassell, is actually an entirely separate beast. Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics starts off from the same basic idea as Hassell's previous solo albums, like Earthquake Island and Vernal Equinox: a blend of avant-garde composition, jazz soloing, and African and Middle Eastern rhythmic forms. This album adds only Eno's characteristic production touches, like the reversed echo that adds a ghostly, unreal edge to Hassell's trumpet solos on the side-long "Charm (Over Burundi Cloud)." The rest of the album, including the African hand drummers on the hypnotic "Delta Rain Dream" and the swirling, almost speech-like solos of "Griot," is pure Hassell. Although this album was never a chart hit and has become surprisingly underappreciated over the years, its influence on what has since become known as tribal techno is incalculable, as has its influence on those art rockers who have picked up a world music vibe. Peter Gabriel in particular owes a fair chunk of his royalty checks from Security onward to Jon Hassell. © Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 29, 1986 | ECM

Power Spot opens with the surging, polyrhythmic title track featuring Hassell's sinuous trumpet lines and dense electronic percussion from one of the album's most significant collaborators, J.A. Deane. Ambient keyboard textures drone in the background and, together with the percussion, form a mesmerizing tapestry over which Hassell's trumpet glides and soars. Images of the African continent emerge from the cyclic rhythms and harmonic stasis; a meditative calm hovers behind the swirling surfaces. The opening title track clearly sets the stage for what is to follow. During the murky, down-tempo "Passage D.E.," Hassell conjures stillness from his horn, breathy clouds laced with echo. In "Solaire," the trumpet weaves through watery, transparent textures and pulsing percussion. "Miracle Steps" opens with brazen trumpet declamations accompanied only by irregular rhythmic patterns from the percussion. An evocative blend of quasi-elephant calls and train whistles, the solo trumpet eventually winds its way downward until it is quietly submerged. "Wing Melodies" recalls the surging motion and dense fabric of the title track. Multiple keyboard parts interlock with aggressive percussion while Brian Eno's stuttering bassline remains fixed. Hassell's exuberant trumpet solo is possibly his finest on the album. "The Elephant and the Orchid" recalls the slower tempo and darker shades of "Passage D.E," but lingers there for a rather long time. Ambient keyboard drones and weary percussion provide the accompaniment for Hassell's remarkably flute-like sound. The shimmering flutes of Miguel Frasconi are a welcomed addition to the gently concluding "Air." Throughout Power Spot, Hassell's distinctive "raga" trumpet sound is breathy and vocal. He accomplished this by singing into the trumpet rather than the traditional method of blowing into it. Furthermore, Hassell often harmonized his principal trumpet line in real time, creating chords from just one note. At the time, he accomplished this real-time harmonization by using "tuned" tape loops to create parallel harmonies in fourths and major chords. Released in 1986, Power Spot marks Hassell's only release on Manfred Eicher's ECM label. Recorded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1983-1984, the co-production and engineering team of Eno and Daniel Lanois faithfully captured Hassell's musical vision while remaining unobtrusive. The larger ensemble sound of Power Spot expanded on Hassell's pan-global "Fourth World" music, which he began with Eno on the groundbreaking Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics album of 1980. While not as stunning as Possible Musics, Power Spot is nonetheless one of the most significant recordings from this utterly unique musician. © Mark Kirschenmann /TiVo

Ambient - Released June 8, 2018 | Ndeya

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2017 | Ndeya

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2017 | Ndeya

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Dance - Released January 1, 1983 | One Up

The beautiful cover painting by Mati Klarwein serves as an appropriate visual analogy for the music contained herein: an abutting of two worlds, an insinuating blend of early-'80s high tech with ancient Southeast Asia. Over varying, non-specific rhythms supplied by Abdou Mboup, Jon Hassell weaves a music both evocative and plaintive, his modified trumpet sighing like an old Javanese horn pulled into the digital age on its way to what he calls a "coffee-colored" future where all ethnic traditions become one. The astonishingly vocal sound he gets from that treated trumpet is certainly one of the signatures of this album and one of the more lovely sounds heard anywhere. His compositions have a bit too much direction and drive to comfortably settle into the term ambient, but they remain as relaxed and gently meandering as a jungle stream. One especially nice feature is the subtle electronic burblings that whisper in the background, creating an enticingly busy sense of space. Aka/Darbari/Java is an early high-water mark at the juncture between world and ambient musics. © Brian Olewnick /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 6, 2009 | ECM

Booklet
The strangely beautiful title of Jon Hassell's Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street on ECM is taken from a poem by the great 13th century Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi. The rest of it, in the context of the sound here, is also instructional: "Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street/I took it as a sign to start singing/Falling up into the bowl of sky." Hassell's electronically enhanced trumpet playing follows directly in a line from Miles Davis' experiments of the 1970s. It comes off more as "singing" than anything else. He sounds like no one else, but many trumpet players and sound collagists have been deeply influenced by his work. The "bowl of sky" in the poem is referent, too: it reflects the quality of Hassell's musical montages and sonic investigations. This has been true since the very beginning in the 1970s, but became his trademark "sound" while working with Brian Eno as he developed his "Fourth World" music -- showcased on his EG albums from the early '80s (Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya, Aka/Darbari/Java ) -- and was acutely articulated on his last ECM release, 1985's brilliant Power Spot. Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street is Hassell's first recording since 2005's Maarifa Street: Magic Realism, Vol. 2; it's an assembled montage of sessions recorded in France and Los Angeles, and concerts are also woven into the rich fabric here. Hassell's music, even now, sounds alien, beguiling, mercurial, seemingly formless and airy but full of subtle washes, shifts of tone, and polyrhythmic strategies. The ten cuts here are mostly middle-length pieces that range between five and eight minutes, but three -- "Time and Place," "Clairvoyance," and "Scintilla" -- act as transitions segmenting, however seamlessly, the album into roughly thirds. The band contains a pair of holdovers from his last outing in bassist Peter Freeman -- who doubles on laptop -- and guitarist Rick Cox, who has been augmented by no less than Eivind Aarset on the instrument. The other new players include Jamie Muhoberacon keyboard and laptop, drummers Helge Norbakken and Pete Lockett, Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche on violin, and Jan Bang on live sampling. Together they root and extend the aerial sound of Hassell's trumpet that flows everywhere and anywhere. Check the simple bass and guitar rhythmic attack on "Abu Gil," the album's longest track, where In a Silent Way's "It's About That Time" meets the desert blues feels of "Anouar Brahem" and the Master Musicians of Jajouka meet the noir-ish ambient funk of early Shriekback. The title track, by contrast, is a long, loping, beautiful number where moods of morning, marketplaces, and nocturnal sunsets all loosely entwine around the listener. The obvious postmodern jazz soloist's approach hovers all around the shapes and colors evoked by keyboards and trumpet in "Courtrais," as soundscape, loops, and ambiences all deepen and widen before being grounded by a subtle but unflinching backbone-slipping bassline by Freeman. Hassell moves toward everything -- samples, drifting sonics, hints of melody, and, for such quiet and subtle music, an impressive harmonic palette -- to create a montage that evokes the timelessness of the past with a firm grasp on the unknowable, perhaps even unspeakable, future. His jazzman's sense of time and phrasing is enhanced by his painterly sense of space and shade. This album is further proof that Jon Hassell inhabits a terrain of his own, and reflects the true vibration of poetry as it meets the human ear as something akin to pure sound. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released March 20, 2020 | Ndeya

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Ambient - Released February 8, 2008 | Intuition

Ambient - Released June 11, 2020 | Ndeya

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2017 | Ndeya

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Ambient - Released July 7, 2020 | Ndeya

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Experimental - Released May 7, 2021 | Ndeya

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 19, 2014 | All Saints Records

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Ambient - Released April 5, 2018 | Ndeya

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Ambient - Released May 11, 2018 | Ndeya

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Artist

Jon Hassell in the magazine