Jon Hassell: Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) (Ndeya) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, September 24th, 2020  

Jon Hassell

Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two)


Aug 05, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Jon Hassell is still in the Fourth World, and boy, it sounds like a better place than wherever the hell we are. The trumpeter/composer has spent decades evoking a post-border utopia, where his electronically treated horn can spend the day spiraling around rainforest-hued sonic vistas; if you're unfamiliar, imagine Miles Davis’ On the Corner, but freeze-dried and inhabiting an Amazon of the mind.

Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) somehow sounds both reassuringly classic and markedly fresh. Freaky electronic effects and exotic instrumentation flow along on icy rhythm beds influenced by vintage hip-hop, trip hop, and dub, and if a couple of those grooves sail perilously close to the seas of cheese, Hassell’s artier impulses steer the ship out of Muzak territory. The album is full of delay-laden percussion stabs out of stage left, blasts of dissonance that nearly kick a song off its groove, and disparate aural inputs blending into new, strange forms.

Seeing Through Sound doesn’t quite enrapture like Hassell’s 1977 debut Vernal Equinox or Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, his renowned collaboration with Brian Eno, but it’s a satisfying, fully invested work. Hassell has more than earned the right to rest on his laurels at this point, so it’s a true gift that he’s opted out of that career route. (

Author rating: 7/10

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