Well chuffed to have my Melody Maker review of City - in which I described the album as "a labyrinth of deadly deranging beauty, a maze of mirrors" - included in the CD booklet alongside sundry other texts by Glenn O'Brien, Brian Eno, and Jon H himself.
Jon Hassell - City: Works Of Fiction - Expanded Edition Trailer from All Saints Records on Vimeo.
Around the album's original release I also interviewed Hassell, writing it up for The Observer and also MM.
But not content with that I also made the 808 State versus Jon Hassell version of "Voiceprint" Single of the Week in Melody Maker.
Tireless supporter, I was!
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
JON HASSELL/808 STATE
Jon Hassell is an avant-garde composer who keeps an eye, or
rather an ear, out for instinctively/unwittingly avant-garde pop
forms like rap and house. (He's described his astonishing album
"City: Works Of Fiction" as "classical rap"). 808 State are a
techno-dance production team who flirt with the avant-garde.
Someone had the bright idea of getting them together, and the
result is this radical remix of "Voiceprint" off the "City" album.
Hassell's original method of composition reveals how much of
an affinity his way of working has with the sampling aesthetic.
Having got his musicians to play six wildly different mixes of the
track, he chose his favourite sections, drew up a complicated map
between the segments, and programmed it into a computer. The
result: "a mosaic in which each of the tiles is a spontaneous
event", and a brilliant balance between improvisation and
composition, seduction and alienation. 808 State have taken the
abstraction process one step further, by sampling from a vinyl
version of "Voiceprint" rather than remixing the original tapes.
It's a radical reconstruction rather than a track underwrittn by a
standard-issue 1990 groove.
The result is a richly evocative exercise in unspecific
exoticism: you think of dunes, mosques, mirages, bazaars with their
hubbub of foregn tongues and heady assault of pungent, unfamiliar
fragrances. Hassell's trumpet calligraphy darts in and out of
808's techno-vistas, synths shimmer like a heat-haze. "Voiceprint"
presents the city of the future as a fractal labyrinth of uprooted
cultures that co-exist but never mingle. Single of the week,
because it's a work of imagination, and it works your imagination.
This week, that's rare.
In retrospect, not all that as dancemix versions of 4thworldly ambientjazz go... a bit linear.
Here's a more recent remix by Patten that's included on the third disc of the reissue, Psychogeography: Zones of Feeling