Hassell, Jon: Vernal Equinox LP
Vernal Equinox was the first commercially released work by Jon Hassell, originally put out by Lovely Music in 1977. It is also the debut of a pioneering new form of music that would become known as "fourth world": a subtle blend of field recordings, electric jazz, ambience and global music influences. Hassell's trademark FX-soaked trumpet is carefully embellished by a studio ensemble including the master Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos and David Rosenboom on synth. The result is a quiet, meditative and highly original work of outstanding beauty. Fully remastered from the original tapes and available on vinyl for the first time in 42 years! Sleeve notes by Jon Hassell and Brian Eno.
"Jon Hassell's 1980 album Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, produced alongside Brian Eno, is perhaps the most common entry point in the trumpeter's catalog, arriving during the latter's ascendance as a pop theorist and alchemist. But Hassell's 1977 debut contains many of the same ideas in a more muted and subtle form. Inspired by raga music, particularly the work of the vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, Hassell processes his trumpet sound and focuses on notes that change in tiny increments, giving his melodies a slippery quality where you're never quite sure where they are coming from or where they might go next. The background is filled with quiet twitches of rattles and bells, gurgling talking drum, and snippets of bird songs, creating a bed of sound that is hard to pin down but easy to absorb as a whole. Sources stretch in all directions, from the "Shhh/Peaceful" jazz of Miles Davis to Indian classical music to twinkling New Age, but the music's refusal to be any one thing makes each listen feel like the first one." – Mark Richardson, Pitchfork (The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time)