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Power Spots: 13 Artists On The Inspiration Of Jon Hassell
Patrick Clarke , September 16th, 2020 10:26

From Katie Gately to Wacław Zimpel, Abul Mogard to Sarah Davachi, we asked 13 of our favourite musicians to pick a work by the great Jon Hassell, and to tell us what it means to them


Katie Gately on ‘Miracle Steps’ from Power Spot (1986)

I discovered Jon Hassell through a raga & sitar class I took in college where Vernal Equinox was recommended highly to me. As a naturally defiant person, I decided to ignore that record and immerse myself in another, less-hyped record called Power Spot. The title sounded muscular and threatening and I expected the music to smell of blood. Yet as I listened, it became clear this was a far more slippery and strange kind of music.

The most stark, immediate track for me was ‘Miracle Steps’. What is it? If it were a taste, it would be an over-ripe mango. A flavour that wavers between sweet and slime. If it were a visual, it would be the contorted, slinky silhouette of Jessica Rabbit wrestling her way out of a straitjacket. Even though the liner notes tell me this track has a processed trumpet and drums, I don’t see those objects making these sounds. I hear a mix of lemurs, elephants and train whistles choraling alongside tree branches pounding the earth.

Whereas fuller, more traditional arrangements allow genre to come stomping in with its bossy shadow, the sparseness of this piece asks the listener to be bewildered. Untethered, your brain quickly tries to fill in gaps and you’re confronted with how weird you are. While ‘Miracle Steps’ isn’t violent or threatening, it is gorgeously uncivilised. There is nowhere to sit down inside the music. No seatbelts in sight. As a whole, this record is feral, free and most certainly defiant!

Picture: Steve Gullick