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.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason