"With this record, I locate myself squarely within that aspect of music which is fundamental and irreducible: the beauty of the sound," states Jon Hassell in the liner notes for Fascinoma. Hassell, of course, has spent his career emphasizing the beauty of sound and how recordings capture that better than any other medium. The difference is, with Fascinoma, he weaves unique interpretations of standards like "Nature Boy" and "Caravan" into his own sonic tapestry. Hassell has intended the album as a tribute to the "musical exotica" he heard as a child "on the radio or in movie scores," and his statement unlocks many doors to his music. Echoes of early exotica and evocative jazz can be heard throughout the album, but Hassell pieces it together in an odd, original fashion. Since the record is so quiet, some listeners may dismiss it as mere mood music. This is a valid point; the album creates its own unique, wide open aural vistas. But listen closer and there's some truly startling interplay and ideas, not only from Hassell but from his supporting musicians (who include Ry Cooder and Jacky Terrasson). At times, the gauzy recording can be a little impenetrable, as can the challenging minimalism of the compositions and arrangements themselves. But if the music intrigues you, it's hard not to get swept up in it.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine