Jon Hassell / Jon Hassell

Aka/Darbari/Java

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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.

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