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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


Sarah Davachi on ‘Blues Nile’ from Vernal Equinox (1977)

I love everything about this record, but ‘Blues Nile’ has always been the track that calls out to me the clearest. There are obviously some close comparisons one could make to the earlier saxophone ‘drones’ of people like Terry Riley or Terry Jennings, and this track has a similar circular/modal quality, but I find that the treatment of it is completely distinctive. I feel like each track on this album has a different mood, a different character, and once ‘Blues Nile’ hits at around the half mark, the tone is altered in such a magical way as to give space for the intimate mystery of the second side. I’ve always been attracted in my own music to the warmth and focus that a pair of slowly shifting and phasing synthesiser oscillators can impart on a musical experience, and ‘Blues Nile’ is an incredibly elegant iteration of this kind of interiorised moment. Of course, Hassell’s trumpet is the central element, and I can’t say that I’ve heard the instrument treated in exactly the same manner in any other context – more than just a simple echo, we feel the aspects of its persistent presence and its occasional dislocation, the particular subtleties of the overall timbre, and the increasing complexity of layers and time manipulation that creates unique valleys and shadows in the second half of the track... like a siren, its movement draws you in and settles you quite unlike anything else.