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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


Becker & Mukai on ‘Toucan Ocean’ from Vernal Equinox (1977)

Jon Hassell's music has been meaningful for both of us for a long time. We discovered it in different ways. I [Jean-Gabriel Becker] found him through his collaborations with Harold Budd and Gavin Bryars, which led me to the Fourth World recordings he made with Brian Eno at the very start of the 80s. Susumu [Mukai] came across his performances on Talking Heads’ 'Houses in Motion’ and was immediately drawn to the curious voice-like quality of his trumpet style, (one developed through studying raga under Pandit Pran Nath). We looked for more of Jon’s music, and it became a faithful companion for us individually, and in our work together.

The organic quality of the sound in Jon's music – whether the sounds come from machines, acoustic instruments or nature – has influenced our own work, along with the otherworldliness of it and his very original use of space and percussions.

What makes Jon’s music so vibrant to us is a timelessness that is somehow also modernity, which makes it very difficult to relate any of his music to a specific era, apart from the imitations and emulations that it created. It’s kept his music relevant: and elements from his composing style can be heard in so many recordings over the decades. His influence on music is vast and immensely diverse, from jazz to modern classical, from pop to ambient.

We chose ‘Toucan Ocean’, a trance-inducing piece from his first solo album Vernal Equinox, which means a lot to us and is as otherworldly and spacious as Jon gets. But we’re honestly just as excited by his most recent record Listening to Pictures. Such longevity is an example to all composers.