Trumpeter, keyboardist and composer Jon Hassell continually defies any semblance of musical restrictions, besides his assertion of a "Fourth World" type of musicality. His acoustic and electric trumpet work remains in a class of its own, other than similarities to Miles Davis’ pace-setting electric-fusion period. On 1980s collaborations with ambient god Brian Eno, and his 1986 inaugural ECM Records album Power Spot, produced by Eno and Daniel Lanois, the artist spawned a stylistic genre that incorporated a prismatic world-music stance into his craft.
On this 2009 release, Hassell cites the program as a continuous piece, although the tracks are looped into a cogent sequence of events, and titled accordingly. As witnessed in the past, other than albums where the artist implemented fully structured rhythms into his repertoire, the music iterated throughout this endeavor casts a walking-on-water vibe that morphs into drifting and spacey thematic forays. No one does it like Hassell as some would intimate. And it comes as no mystery that he’s an accomplished scorer for film and TV. Here, the trumpeter pursues a muse that would seem appropriate for a serious-minded geo-documentary, brimming with darkly ethereal dream sequences. It’s quietly powerful, yet somewhat exotic, where tensions are implied but never executed in full force.
Dino J. Deans and Jan Bang embed live sampling into the carefully layered percussion, keys and guitar schema. At times bassist Peter Freeman’s ostinato patterns create a timestamp for several movements that seemingly dissipate into the cosmos via liquefying themes amid Hassell’s gliding trumpet lines. As some of these works are engineered upon Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche’s streaming staccato phraseology in concert with Hassell’s extended note choruses. Hence, the album is sprinkled with warmly sculptured shadings.
Hassell’s East Indian and African influences are subtly injected within the totality of the album. Blissful melody lines caress your neural network and then drift into existential motifs. On "Blue Period," we hear sweeping keys-based sounds that contrast the trumpeter’s melodic yet moody passages, frequently conjuring up notions of lament. This work in particular could serve as a backdrop for a loving relationship gone bad.
Hassell engenders us with a fertile starting point for our imaginative powers to interpret or refresh into variable associations, whether by design or via intrinsic mechanisms. And there lies the beauty of it all.