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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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Jazz - Released March 20, 2009 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 29, 1986 | ECM

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Ambient - Released June 8, 2018 | Ndeya

Now in his ninth decade, trumpeter, composer, and sonic conceptualist Jon Hassell remains a restless musical explorer. While he hasn't released an album under his own name since 2009's Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street on ECM, he's been working to further the Fourth World concept articulated fully on 1980's Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics and 1981's Dream Theory in Malaya. Hassell utilized the aesthetics of American minimalism and married them to strands of electric modal jazz, the various global musics he studied, and electronics. He not only employed these on his own records, but in collaborations with everyone from kd lang and 808 State to Ry Cooder, Björk, David Sylvian, and even Tears for Fears. Listening to Pictures is subtitled "Pentimento, Vol. 1." The first word in the term refers to an Italian visual art technique that signifies the reappearance of earlier altered and covered-over images inside a primary work. On these eight tracks, Hassell uses his own performance fragments and samples, then overdubs and samples them ad nauseum onto other manipulated sounds and rhythms, ultimately creating new forms. His primary collaborators here are guitarist Rick Cox, drummer John Von Seggern, and electric violinist Hugh Marsh (all of whom also play "electronics"), as well as guests such as sound sculptor/guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Ralph Cumbers (aka Bass Clef), and longtime collaborator, violinist Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche. Opener "Dreaming" finds Hassell's blurry trumpet hovering over a series of barely discernible piano vamps to offer a noirish, yet gentle rounded melody in tones that never develop past their introductory stage, and don't need to. "Picnic" employs a Roland 808, quivering, quaking drum machines, elliptical sonic frequencies, and washed-out keyboards to affect a reverie that exists in the space between light and darkness. "Al Kongo Udu" and "Pastorale Vassant" both move rhythmically from syncopated ambient jungle to broken beat fractures with sampled African drums rubbing up against rickety synthetic ones. "Manga Scene" blends Hassell's watery, muted modal trumpet to glitchy beats and ominous, dissonant backdrops. The robotic-sounding intro to "Her First Rain" is interspersed with post-bop piano, dubwise bass and drums, squiggles, and loops before the set closes with "Ndeya" (also the name of his new label) and weaves together the tenets of an elusive, seductive Fourth World past with "Pentimento" the present; it's a "now" that Hassell explains as "...letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of 'shapes' you're seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through Time." In truth, the listener cannot help but remain in the eternal twilight moments Listening to Pictures introduces. It is a music of sense and memory perceptions, a sonic projection equal to but different from the sources that inspired it. When all are assembled, they constitute a deep, mysterious, and occasionally disruptive journey into shade, texture, nuance, and seductive persuasion. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Ambient - Released February 8, 2008 | Intuition

Taking a vacation from abstraction, Hassell kicks out a near set of dance tunes with Burkino Faso musicians, Farafina. So great is his exhilaration, he even gives us peeks at the natural timbre of his trumpet. It was produced by Hassell, Daniel Lanois, and Brian Eno. © Bob Tarte /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2017 | Ndeya

Recorded in 1976 at the York University Electronic Media Studios in Toronto, Ontario, Vernal Equinox is Jon Hassell's first recording as a solo artist and sets the stage for his then-emerging career as a trumpeter, composer and musical visionary. "Toucan Ocean" opens the album with two gently swaying chords and delicate layers of percussion that provide a cushion upon which Hassell unfurls long, winding melodic shapes. His trumpet is sent through echo and an envelope filter, producing a stereo auto-wah-wah effect. "Viva Shona" features accompaniment by mbira, subtle polyrhythmic layers of percussion, and the distant calling of birds. Again filtered through echo, Hassell's gliding trumpet lines sound remarkably vocal. "Hex" features a bubbling, filtered electric bass part with a denser web of percussion. From his horn, Hassell elicits moans and sighs that are at first unaffected and later filtered. "Blues Nile" is a long, blue moan. Hassell's breathy, multi-tracked trumpet lines call and respond to one another, weaving a web of deep calm over an ever-present drone. This track clearly points the way to his later work with Brian Eno, in particular, their "Charm Over Burundi Sky." On the title track, Hassell's "kirana" trumpet style is in full bloom as he dialogs with the percussion. Hassell's most elegant melodicism blossoms forth here, and his unaffected horn often sounds disarmingly flute-like. The influences of his study of raga with Pandit Pran Nath are clearly discernible in the curvaceous melodic lines and overall sense of meditative calm within harmonic stasis. Throughout the album, percussionists Naná Vasconcelos and David Rosenboom add subtle, supple grooves and colors. "Caracas Night September 11, 1975" is a beautiful field recording featuring Hassell's plaintive trumpet commentary, subtle percussion interjections, and the sound of caracas humming and buzzing in the background. The first several tracks of Vernal Equinox bear the imprint of '70s-period Miles Davis, in particular the quiet ambience of "He Loved Him Madly" and parallel passages from Agharta. The envelope filter on Hassell's horn similarly draws a reference to Davis' use of the wah-wah pedal from that time. Nonetheless, in 1976, Vernal Equinox was remarkably unique and ahead of its time, and sowed the seeds of Hassell's influential Fourth World aesthetic, which he would continue to develop and refine. Decades after its release, Vernal Equinox still provides an enchanting and entirely contemporary listening experience. ~ Mark Kirschenmann
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Jazz - Released March 20, 2009 | ECM

Booklet
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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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Alternative & Indie - Released December 8, 2017 | Ndeya

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

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Ambient - Released May 11, 2018 | Ndeya

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Ambient - Released April 5, 2018 | Ndeya