Jon Hassell – Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two)
Jon Hassell pioneered the sound that would become known as Fourth World music – a blend of electronics and global music influences, drawing on ambient, jazz and minimalism, alongside harmonies and traditional instruments from across Africa and Asia. His long career has seen many influential solo works as well as collaborations with Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads among others.
Seeing Through Sound, the second volume in Jon Hassell’s Pentimento series, presents eight new tracks by the music visionary, continuing his lifelong exploration of the possibilities of musical gene splicing and recombination.
The album shares a similar sonic makeup to 2018’s Listening to Pictures. However, there is a feeling that Hassell has gone even deeper into those ‘unknown and imaginary regions’ here. The atmospheres are thicker, the feel of the record somewhat more pensive than its predecessor. While Seeing Through Sound is not a dark listen, there is certainly some tension lurking in the corners.
Seeing Through Sound is buffered by two eight minute plus epics – the hypnotic Fearless with its metronomic, almost Can-like rhythm; mirrored at the end of the record by the beautiful sci-fi lullaby of Timeless. The bridge between those two worlds is no less compelling – from the IDM sketch of Reykjavik to the collapsed time ballad of Unknown Wish. Whilst containing seeds of classic Fourth World fusion, this record finds the artist still questing to create new forms and mutations of music, a thrilling window into what music could sound like in a world to come.
The title can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but perhaps the most pertinent at the moment is the human instinct to sing and play through a rain of difficulties.
2. Moons Of Titan
3. Unknown Wish
6. Cool Down Coda