Jon Hassell

City: Works of Fiction

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Several tracks on Jon Hassell's City: Works of Fiction feature dense electronic textures that are more fragmentary and aggressive than his prior work. However, the many polyrhythmic grooves on City are clearly reminiscent of Power Spot and point to the upcoming hip-hop of Dressing for Pleasure. Throughout City, Hassell's unique brand of exoticism prevails as he weaves his processed raga trumpet amidst a dazzling array of digital samples and electronic percussion, electric bass and guitar, and Masai voices from Kenya.

"Voiceprint" is densely packed with fragments of electronic percussion and samples; a popping bass searches for grooves that suddenly coalesce and then quickly disintegrate. Several fragmentary trumpet themes drift past while manipulated voices punctuate the kaleidoscopic textures. As with "In the City of Red Dust" and "Warriors," disorientation prevails over Hassell's usual languid cool. Hassell's echo-laden and harmonized trumpet themes lead "Pagan," which also features groove-oriented bass and percussion while disembodied samples chatter in the background. In particular, these tracks reflect Hassell's increasing interest in sampling technology as heard in Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and Hank Shocklee's productions with Public Enemy.

Harmonized trumpet calls and surging polyrhythms propel "Mombasa" and "Out of Adedara," as Hassell's Fourth World fascination becomes apparent. On "Mombasa," Hassell's distinctive trumpet glides and soars; multiple layers of trumpet interact and call out amidst the animated rhythms. In contrast, Hassell's trumpet leads "Rain" through cloudy samples and a subdued groove. "Ba-Ya D" features trumpet loops reminiscent of Possible Musics over which he layers melismatic cries of solo trumpet; moaning samples hover in the background. On "Out of Adedara," Hassell's weary trumpet brings the album to a quiet closing. As with all of Hassell's best work, his processed raga trumpet remains the focal point from which his highly imaginative musical conceptions emerge. On City, Hassell's trumpet bridges the new rhythms, textures, and technology to his futurist/primitivist Fourth World aesthetic. In the hands of lesser artists, these seemingly disparate worlds would collide. On City, Hassell transforms his unique imaginary music into aural realism.

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