Jon Hassell’s new album ‘Seeing Through Sound’ is everything we love about electronic jazz
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
Anyone familiar with Jon Hassell’s work will know about his unwavering talent to push the boundaries of genre music with his eclectic originality. His newest album Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) promises immersive songs for any jazz lover to enjoy. The collection will garner new fans out of casual listeners and is worthy of any art house event.
His ethereal electronic jazz soundtrack satisfies the senses with delightfully pulsating tones. One of his songs “Moons of Titan”—arguably one of the best segments in the album—employs soothing flourishes and soft percussion to create a relaxing meditation. Hassell’s experimental repertoire, albeit lacking any lyrics, would be perfect for surreal sci-fi films like Blade Runner or The Twilight Zone.
The album also has a compelling scope of mystery that alludes to the sublime vastness of the universe. The track “Lunar” balances eerie pings with sudden screeches from the synthesizer. This creates reverberating tension, reminiscent of an avant-garde horror movie taking place in a celestial world. As for “Cool Down,” the piece employs strong hits on the drum rim and infuses them with bizarre distortions. This evokes feelings of uncertainty—like that of the cosmos. These songs beautifully convey the wonders and dangers of space exploration.
Beyond his other-worldly motifs, Hassell’s musical non-conformity encourages listeners to embrace their differences. The trumpet, synthesizer, and maracas from the song “Delicado” provide playful oddities. Hassell’s track shows that what makes us unique may seem absurd to others, yet is still the best part of our true selves.
However, the album may not be for everyone—especially those that prefer more traditional jazz music. Hassell’s subversive work would alienate fans of iconic musicians like John Coltrane or Billie Holiday for example.
The songs have bold and sometimes strange approaches to their sound, so they require an extremely open mind that welcomes a refreshing take on a classic genre. If one wants to broaden their musical interests, then they may have a marvelous experience with the soundtrack.
Jon Hassell’s Seeing Through Sound offers jazz fans a new breed of experimental music to add to their playlists. The riveting elegance from its calming songs give listeners an almost spiritual peace. Hassell’s album has the right moxie for anyone excited to begin a journey into the depths of electronic jazz.