May 2009

Jon Hassell
Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street
ECM Records

Good news: Jon Hassell has found the cure for insomnia, and he calls it Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.

To be fair, Hassell is a highly regarded trumpeter, composer and bandleader. His music is cinematic and ethereal. Hassell considers his creations to be part of a distinct genre, which he calls Fourth World. It seems to blend elements of jazz, world, new age, classical chamber music and ambient. The problem with music that feels cinematic is that it often needs a film to go along with it. And if there were a movie to accompany Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street, it would probably bore Roger Ebert to tears.

Hassell’s trumpeting is stark and bleak, accompanied by multiple thin layers of sound created by an ensemble that includes acoustic and electronic musicians: Peter Freeman on bass and laptop, Jan Bang on live sampling, Jamie Muhoberac on keyboards and laptop, Rick Cox on guitars and loops, Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche on violin, Eivind Aarset on guitar, and Helge Norbakken and Pete Lockett on drums. The tunes evolve with great precision, and they operate at one speed: slow. Here and there are pockets of inspiration, but on the whole the album is deliberate to its own detriment. One concession: It does grow on you after six or seven listens, but not enough, and anyway it really shouldn’t take that long.

Originally published in May 2009

1 Comment

  • Apr 30, 2009 at 04:29PM James_Keepnews

    OK, I'll bite -- how long should it really take?

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