Hassell, Jon/Farafina: Flash of the Spirit LP
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Tak:Til/Glitterbeat present the first ever reissue and remastering of Jon Hassell and Farafina's prescient, "Fourth World" masterwork, Flash of the Spirit, originally released in 1988. Propulsive Burkinese rhythms meet revelatory, ambient soundscapes. Co-produced with the legendary studio team of Brian Eno and Dainel Lanois. Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell has been an elusive, iconic musical figure for more than half a century. He's best known as the pioneer and propagandist of "Fourth World" music, mixing technology with the tradition and spirituality of non-western cultures. In 1987 he joined with Farafina, the acclaimed percussion, voice, and dance troupe from Burkina Faso, to record Flash of the Spirit. While the album is a natural extension of those "Fourth World" ideas, and a new strand of Possible Musics, it also a distinctive outlier in the careers of both artists; an unrepeated merging of sounds whose influence still reverberates today. The eight members of the band -- who had also collaborated with the Rolling Stones and Ryuichi Sakamoto -- brought their long apprenticed, virtuosic drumming, and melodic textures (balafon, flute, voices) to the sessions. They built up layers and patterns of rhythm, while producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (fresh off the success of U2's Joshua Tree) created a sonic atmosphere in which they could creatively intertwine with Hassell's digitally processed trumpet and keyboards. Despite their initial skepticism, the musicians from Farafina ended up relishing their interaction with the studio team and the trumpeter/conceptualist Hassell. The music that emerged was rich and groundbreaking, a move to transcend the boundaries between jazz, avant-garde classical, ambient and the deep rhythmic tradition embodied by Farafina. On "Out Pours", the groove simmers softly, led by shifting patterns on the balafon, while Hassell's heavily treated trumpet creates breathy swirls of sound that play and dance around them. Percussion leads on "A Vampire Dances," pushing and probing and seeming to force electronic shrieks as a response from Hassell's trumpet, while the keyboard creates a bed of sound that refuses to hold still. "(Like) Warriors Everywhere" takes that idea even further. Over Farafina's surging rhythms, Hassell's electric piano and trumpet dig deep into abstract, melodic ideas hinted at by the Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis band. Farafina create the rhythms and counter-rhythms that spring and move. A new, natural trans-cultural harmony is apparent on the final track, "Masque", where percussion and treated trumpet draw the listener along on a journey through shifting landscapes.