Overwhelmingly interesting and extremely variant, Jon Hassell's Dream Theory in Malaya is rescued from the stereotypical new age recipe, thanks to its ever-changing instrumental structure and the use of numerous eccentric instruments that emerge as the album progresses. The album's concept is taken from an anthropologist's 1935 study of a tribe of Malaysian aborigines who made it part of their daily routine to discuss the dreams they had the night before. To this story line, Hassell has created a novel and extraordinary set of instrumental meanderings that even includes a refurbished and re-fragmented set of rhythms that was believed to be created by the Semelai tribe.
Largely thought of merely as a mostly stillborn offshoot of Brian Eno's larger ambient music series, the Fourth World series of albums, in collaboration with trumpeter Jon Hassell, is actually an entirely separate beast. Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics starts off from the same basic idea as Hassell's previous solo albums, like Earthquake Island and Vernal Equinox: a blend of avant-garde composition, jazz soloing, and African and Middle Eastern rhythmic forms.
Combining Hassel's trademark brand of Fourth World fusion with influences from the then emerging hip-hop scene, this 1990 album is a landmark release in JH's career. This 2014 re-release of City: Works Of Fiction is presented as a deluxe triple CD set, alongside a 1989 concert performance of the City group, mixed live by Brian Eno, plus a carefully edited sequence of alternate takes, demos and re-interpretations.
This is a unique blend of free jazz and electronica. Beginning with three live concerts, each recorded in four instrumental layers, some performances (notably the trumpet) were left intact, other layers were either re-performed or invented anew. Some layers migrated from one performance to another. Other completely new layers were made by canibalizing parts from previous works and reshaping them. This collection is an interesting blend of live concert recordings and studio mixes which makes for a haunting and ethereal soundscape.