INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
College Music Journal NOVEMBER 10, 2000 - by Gene Kalbacher
JON HASSELL: DREAM THEORY IN MALAYA
One world may be enough for The Police, but avant-wave trumpeter-composer Jon Hassell insists on four. His fourth-world explorations, of which this is the second edition, graft ethnic sounds, often percussive, with "advanced electronic techniques" to create synthesized "primitive/futuristic" music. Whether or not his dialectical approach is "advanced" one can't be sure, but his trumpet playing sounds like no brass instrument this reviewer has ever heard. His ultrabreathy tone, more akin to a reed instrument, might have achieved its sibilance by blowing into an amplified Coke bottle. Backed by such exotic percussion instruments as pottery drums, bowl gongs and bells, Hassell's trumpet doesn't sound muted as much as clogged, like muffled car horns in a foggy traffic jam. The inspiration for this music, according to the composer's notes, is the Senol, a highland tribe of Malayan aborigines whose morning custom is to relate to one another their dreams of the previous evening. True to form, this seven-song LP is reflective, perhaps symbolic, and intended perhaps as an ambient listening experience, as is Music For Airports, the New Musak of Brian Eno, who plays drums on two tracks of Dream Theory. Hassell, who studied with electronic-music innovator Karlheinz Stockhausen, is most intriguing on Malay, wherein the sounds of splashing water provide the rhythmic impetus. Heady stuff, this.