Download of the week: Fascinoma by Jon Hassell

Fascinoma by Jon Hassell

Kicked back on a sofa with your feet up on an old steamer trunk and your laptop open for writing as acoustic instrument digital-manipulator and avant-garde trumpeter Jon Hassell blows long and calm at you from between loudspeakers is a pretty good zone to find oneself in.

So it was for me this week.

I let the opening track “Nature Boy” draw me in, closed my eyes and listened as Hassell continued to weave what sounded like a multi-language aural journey imbued with rich tonal colours on his 1999 album Fascinoma featuring Ry Cooder.

The longer the album washed over me, the more I started to become deeply enmeshed in the dialogue that Hassell, Cooder, Ronu Majumdar, Jamie Muhoberac, Rick Cox and Jacky Terrasson were having with one another.

Cooder and Hassell spoke in a cooly improvised manner on cuts like “Caravanesque” and Mevlana Duke” over the background of low-wailing Bansuri that Majumdar was playing and the crazy comings-and-goings of Terrasson’s noodling piano.

Cox’s reedy clarinet and deep, resonant bass-guitar plunking – much of it electronically touched – seemed expertly placed waaaaay back in 3-D space throughout the tracks on the album he plays on. “Secretly Happy” in particular had Cox and Terrasson appear sonically like a distant wadi to a lost traveler in the desert desperate with thirst, lending a shimmering mirage-like depth to the mix which came across a good six-to-eight feet behind my loudspeakers spatial focal plane.

Searching around the web on background for Hassell, I found that Fascinoma is known in some corners of the medical world as slang for a “fascinating case, usually involving a rare disease.”

Considering the deep talent pool on this, Hassell’s 12th full-length LP, and the fact that after hearing the album several times on Tidal in 16/44, I decided to take a chance and hit up HD Tracks to download the album in 24/88, I feel as if Fascinoma is aptly named because whatever this rare disease is, I’ve got it and I don’t want to be cured.

An inspiring sonic journey you will be glad to have been taken along on, the HD version adds depth and tonal/timbral richness that made it my preferred version over the 16/44 Tidal offering. As always, YMMV.

Water Lily Acoustics
P.O. box 91448 Santa Barbara, A 93190 USA

sonicnews's picture

Great review and totally agree. Got it on SACD

sonicnews's picture

According to Discogs - Recorded in Christ the King Chapel, St. Antony's Seminary, Santa Barbara, CA., October 1997, August and November 1998.

Digital mastering was done from the original analogue masters direct to the Sony Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording system by Chris Rice and Gus Skinas, using a custom-built DSD A-to-D converter designed by Ed Meitner.

Comes in a Super Jewel Box.

timorous's picture

Hey Rafe. Just thought I'd point out that you've misspelled the title in several places. Instead of Fascinoma, you've spelled it 'Fasconima'. No biggie. Just keeping you on your toes...

Keep up the good work, and enjoy your new toys.

Rafe Arnott's picture
Apologies for the Dyslexia... thanks for pointing out the tpyo ;-)
Bill Leebens's picture

Another amazing recording from Kavi Alexander. I'd suggest also listening to Hassell's City, with the amazing bass work of my friend/colleague Dan Schwartz.

And sorry, but it's "Fascinoma".

Rafe Arnott's picture
Thanks William :)