INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire MAY 1993 - by David Toop
JON HASSELL/BRIAN ENO: POSSIBLE MUSICS / JON HASSELL: DREAM THEORY IN MALAYA
Subtitled Fourth World Volume One and Two respectively, these albums, reissued at mid-price, reveal Jon Hassell's music and theories coming into focus with the help of innovative productionideas from Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Hassell himself.
Whereas previous LPs such as Earthquake Island and Vernal Equinox had sounded like exotic sound concoctions, their Miles David/La Monte Young/Terry Riley influences clearly apparent, the foggy production of Possible Musics effectively depicted a future world of dreamed, imaginary soundworlds.
After hearing a tape recorded by Daniel Lanois at the Lanois brothers' studio in Hamilton, Ontario, Eno had been impressed with the sound and began working there. The collaborative results were particularly striking on the Jon Hassell albums that followed. On the first of these, Dream Theory In Malaya, Hassell's pitch-shifted trumpet splits into looped smudges and aerated squirts on Eno's mix of Chor Moiré.
The expressionistic flurries and squeals of earlier recordings were replaced by an eerie, gaseous noise: air, metal, lips and spit transformed by the technology of that early '80s instrument of magic, the AMS Digital Delay. This obliterated almost all associations of conventional instruments, pushing the music into a region of hypnogenetic repeats, distant calls, muffled percussion, overlapping atmospheres and echoes.
Although the CD reissue of Dream Theory apologises for revealing "limitations of the source tape", the original vinyl pressings were real Rice Krispies jobs. This hardly enhanced quiet mixes such as These Times.... Hearing these two albums in a digital format gives a positive reason to praise the compact disc, for a change, as well as the music.