INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Record Collector AUGUST 2014 - by Paul Bowler
JON HASSELL - CITY: WORKS OF FICTION
Hassell's metropolitan vision... expanded
Jon Hassell has been treading his singular path since the late '70s. His unique style, dubbed "Fourth World", uses stylistic contrasts to forge a highly visual musical landscape. It received perhaps its most fully realised vision on 1990's City: Works Of Fiction, which receives a welcome reissue here.
Based around the concept of a fantastical metropolis, Hassell created a literate, highly allegorical work as indebted to Borges and Calvino as it was to Terry Riley. Mixing ancient and world ethnic sounds with sophisticated Western futuristic electronica, it's a soundtrack to an imaginary future dominated by Hassell's heavily processed raga trumpet with its air of the East. Among the plethora of sonic clashes on offer, tabla polyrhythms and the steady scrape of metal meld with hints of funk on Out Of Adedara's ambient wanderings, while Ba Ya D's disembodied voices, echoed clangs and eerie synths paint a picture of dark and mysterious cityscapes.
This handsomely packaged expanded edition also includes a bonus CD of remixes and a contemporaneous live performance that sees Hassell's band perform an improvised version of the album over a Brian Eno-curated mishmash of rainforest chatter and tribal noises. It's a highly effective exercise in reinterpretation that adds yet another layer to a dense and rewarding work.