Jon Hassell & Farafina – Flash Of The Spirit
Label: Tak : Til / Glitterbeat Records
Releasedatum: 7 februari 2020
Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell has been an elusive, iconic musical figure for more than half a century. The first ever reissue and remastering of Jon Hassell & Farafina’s prescient, “Fourth World” masterwork. Propulsive Burkinese rhythms meet revelatory, ambient soundscapes. Co-produced with the legendary studio team of Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois.
Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell has been an elusive, iconic musical figure for more than half a century. He’s best known as the pioneer and propagandist of “Fourth World” music, mixing technology with the tradition and spirituality of non-western cultures to create what he termed the “coffee-colored classical music of the future.” In 1987 he joined with Farafina, the acclaimed percussion, voice, and dance troupe from Burkina Faso, to record Flash of the Spirit. While the album is a natural extension of those “Fourth World” ideas, and a new strand of Possible Musics, it also a distinctive outlier in the careers of both artists; an unrepeated merging of sounds whose influence still reverberates today.
Hassell arrived as the outsider, having to slide in and around Farafina, an established group that started in 1978 where the leader, as he told Music Technology, was “somewhat inflexible in terms of new things. They were suspicious at first…about what could happen and why this whole thing was going on.”
But once settled in the studio, the musicians sparked off each other. The eight members of the band – who had also collaborated with the Rolling Stones and Ryuichi Sakamoto – brought their long apprenticed, virtuosic drumming and melodic textures (balafon, flute, voices) to the sessions. They built up layers and patterns of rhythm, while producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (fresh off the phenomenal success of U2’s Joshua Tree) created a sonic atmosphere in which they could creatively intertwine with Hassell’s digitally processed trumpet and keyboards. Just the physical feel of the drums in the room was enough to inspire Hassell.
On its release 32 years ago, Flash of the Spirit was a revelation, a record that had no clear parallel for its
encompassing sound. Even today, now that the musical world has caught up with much of Jon Hassell’s vision, it still feels especially vibrant. The album remains a testament to both the influence Hassell has quietly exerted on contemporary music, and the forward-looking traditionalism of Farafina, one of West Africa’s great rhythmic ensembles.
As walls and barriers are erected around the globe, it is hard not to think of the music found on Flash of the Spirit as ever more relevant. An echo from the past. Still transmitting future possibilities.
01. Flash Of The Spirit (Laughter)
02. Night Moves (Fear)
03. Air Afrique (Wind)
04. Out Pours (Kongo) Blue (Prayer)
05. Kaboo (Play)
06. (Like) Warriors Everywhere (Courage)
07. Dreamworld (Dance)
08. Tales Of The Near Future (Clairvoyance)
09. A Vampire Dances (Symmetry)
10. Masque (Strength)