INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Uncut MARCH 2020 - by Stephen Dalton
JON HASSELL/FARAFINA: FLASH OF THE SPIRIT
First ever reissue for Eno-assisted Afrofuturist collaboration
The godfather of "Fourth World" music, Memphis-born trumpeter and avant-jazz composer Jon Hassell has been mapping undiscovered sonic continents for half a century. Drawing from a limitless multicultural hinterland spanning both hemispheres, he pioneered a kind of panglobal fusion style that blends futuristic and primitive, cerebral and sensual, acoustic and electronic. Brian Eno and David Byrne were early collaborators, exploring his ethnotechno collage methods on their seminal 1981 album My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, which was initially planned as a three-way project before Hassell exited over creative disagreements. But Hassell soon forgave Eno for his "brotherly transgression", enlisting him as co-producer alongside Daniel Lanois on this 1987 collaboration with Burkina Faso's most famous musical export, Farafina, remastered for the first time in this gleaming reissue. Interwoven with West African instruments like the balafon, kora and djembe, Hassell's signature post-Miles trumpet fanfares sound humid and sultry as they emerge through a fog of pitch-bending electronics. Percolating polyrhythmic sprees like Out Pours (Kongo) Blue (Prayer) and the sinewy Afrofuturist tapestry Masque (Strength) radiate a warmblooded, languid, silky beauty. In his most tastefully ambient moments, Hassell overlaps with his sometime collaborator Peter Gabriel, but most of these luscious hybrid tracks still sound alluringly experimental and agelessly contemporary.