INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Wire NOVEMBER 2014 - by Brian Morton
JON HASSELL & BRIAN ENO - FOURTH WORLD VOLUME 1: POSSIBLE MUSICS
Without Jon Hassell's future-primitive trumpet - or the guitar manipulation of recent cover star Robert Fripp - Brian Eno's languid experimentalism would never have broken out of its box. Eno and Hassell met after one of the trumpeter's concerts at The Kitchen in New York. Hassell has made it clear that he regards this 1980 release as his album, with Eno as producer, and that the decision to sell it as a duo project, both names featured on the cover with a slash in between, was a bid for the Roxy demographic. Eno politely confirms that he owes a debt to Jon: "Actually, a lot of people owe a lot to Jon."
The number of Hassell's debtors gets larger and more consolidated by the year. A cohort of young trumpeters, like Arve henriksen, nod to Hassell. Now that world music has lost its huckstering apparatus, he stands out as an almost quaintly noble exponent of an ideal.
As a title, Possible Musics underlines how early this still was in the search for Hassell's "coffee-coloured classical music of the future". Which is to say that even after thirty-five years, Possible Musics still sounds fresh and alert. Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud'), which at twenty-one minutes occupies not much less than half the album, is straight from his concert repertoire, and almost all the others bear his signature, which at the time was so strong as to be unmistakable.
Just around the corner in 1980 was My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, on which Hassell was supposed to join Eno and david Byrne. He still feels he belongs in that album's credits, since it consists of many of his discoveries. The rift healed sufficiently for Hassell to guest on the Eno-produced Talking Heads album Remain In Light, though again largely because he spotted sales mileage in association with a chart outfit. It's a muddled history, but we don't have to deal with any of them as people. As music, it was momentarily uplifting and, for good or ill, it set us free of ethnomusicological nicety.