The American trumpeter and godfather of “fourth world music” delves deep into his ethnomusicological style of composition.
Raised in Memphis and based in Los Angeles, Jon Hassell is a trumpeter, composer and ambient electronic musician who is regarded as the godfather of “fourth world music,” a term that Hassell coined while working on Brian Eno’s 1980 album, Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Music. The Eno record draws on ethnomusicology, field recordings and deconstructed technologies to create cosmic soundscapes that melt time and place together; that sound was introduced on Hassell’s own 1981 album Dream Theory in Malaya, where eastern percussion blends with his trumpet-playing. After studying composition in the US, Hassell worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Europe, and with minimalist masters La Monte Young and Terry Riley; he also became a student of Hindustani raga master, Pandit Pran Nath. As a cult figure himself in the decades since, Hassell’s sound is much copied but arguably, never bettered. In the summer of 2018 he released his first album in nine years, Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One).