INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Mojo JUNE 2020 - by Jon Savage
JON HASSELL: VERNAL EQUINOX
Trumpeter and composer's first album, mixing drone, ambience and drift.
Originally issued in 1977, Vernal Equinox is the perfect introduction to Hassell's Fourth World concept - the unique mix of ethno-futurism and electronica that flowered in the first half of the 1980s. These six pieces show all the elements in place: long, drifting trumpet melodies floating over drones, adroit use of synthesizer, jazz improvisation, and non-Western polyrhythms - some supplied by Brazilian percussion ace Nana Vasconcelos. Mid-paced opener Toucan Ocean, with its wah wah trumpet, is not too dissimilar from what Miles Davis was doing on the more reflective parts of Agharta. The uptempo Hex, with its bubbling bass line and shifting shakers, segues into the tambura-soaked Blues Nile. At twenty minutes, the meditative title track weaves sinuous melodies before resolving into the atmospherics of Caracas Night September 11, 1975. It's humid and peaceful, apart from the insects. In all, a meditative treat.