I bought this record shortly after it came out in 1980, and loved it from the first note. It seemed to come from another world altogether.
I couldn’t really fully understand where it was coming from, but it obviously had some kind of connection to both Miles Davis and Indian music.
Later on I learned about the connection with La Monte Young and it all made more sense.
There was another strange thing- one of the tracks (Griot ‘”Over Contagious Magic”) actually had a loop from “Miles Davis in Concert” playing in the background. How could that be? This was the first time I became aware of sampling…
This is still my favourite Jon Hassell album. His raga derived trumpet lines are unique and incredibly flexible. He uses a harmoniser throughout, and the parallel tonalities it produces give his lines an ethereal quality as they leave the tonality behind. I was lucky to see him play some of this material at the first Womad festival in 1982.
Jon Hassell’s journey into the spaces in-between the conventional notes of the trumpet in pursuit of raga created one of the all-time most recognisable signature sounds in music. It’s impossible to explore similar territory or use a harmoniser with a trumpet without sounding derivative of him.