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Flash of the Spirit

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 21, 1993
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 21, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Intuition
  • ASIN: B000002GRJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,500 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Perhaps the most acoustic of all Jon Hassell albums, "Flash of the Spirit" unites him with the African rhythm group Farafina, who provide a vivid rhythmic foundation for Hassell's trumpeted meanderings. A single, sustained note starts the proceedings and, one by one, awakens the other intruments, which pulse, rise, fall and return throughout the hour-long album. The second half seems like a more pensive restating of the first half--that is, until "Blue(Prayer)," which closes the album. "Blue" is twelve minutes of hypnotic dreamtime propelled by a two-note bass line that simulates the deep breathing of a mountain. It's all a vicarious experiencing of indigenous human life; it is surprising not to hear more of Hassell on movie soundtracks. An earthy harbinger of "City: Works of Fiction," "Flash of the Spirit" is a hard-to-find jewel in Hassell's amazing body of work.
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Format: Audio CD
After creating several works of synthesized world fusion (Fourth World is a real standout), Jon Hassell decided to go for the real thing and teamed up with a well-known percussion group from Burkina Faso, Farafina. He took great pains to insure that the group completely retained its characteristic sound--that all elements of the ensemble were heard clearly. Farafina is, in fact, both percussion and vocals, and the blend of these with Hassell's characteristic "mutant trumpet" and electronics is inspiring.
Brian Eno did much of the mixing here and was completely in tune with Hassell's approach. J.A. Deane, another frequent collaborator with Hassell, is also on hand to lend some of his unique trombone electronics. But the overall feel of the music is strongly African, skillfully melded with studio technology.
The album was made in 1992, and while it is not one of the earliest world fusion works, it is, in retrospect, one of the best. These days it is all too common, when creating an album of worldbeat music, not only to try mixing everything--including the kitchen sink--into one track, but also to bridge the gap between commercial and "ethnic" music. Unfortunately, in most cases, the emphasis is heavily on the commercial side, with the result that the music sounds like a really thin, watery version of what could have been something great.
This one is something great.
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