Jon Hassell - Maarifa Street

Picked up the new Jon Hassell CD today... 'Maarifa Street.'

'Maarifa' is Arabic for 'wisdom,' and the title was inspired by a war report from Iraq.

This album is a sort of back-to-the-roots expedition through Hassell's earlier work. Imagine a best-of album where all the tracks are mashups of old songs, and you begin to get an idea what's going on here. The album is subtitled 'Magic Realism 2,' alluding to Hassell's mid-80s album 'Aka Darbari Java: Magic Realism,' which is a sparse, quiet collection of almost unidentifiable samples from traditional musics and Hollywood musicals. 'Maarifa Street' goes a step further and folds Hassell's previous material back into what's going on now in his musical life.

So you might be wondering: Who's Jon Hassell? There's an easy answer to that question. If you ever watch the TV show 'The Practice,' the theme music is an edit of 'Club Zombie' from Hassell's 'Dressing for Pleasure' CD. 'Maarifa Street' is much more subdued and expansive than that, but works along similar lines.

Overall, it's a thumbs-up. I'm glad to hear the essence of Hassell's early atmospherics folded over into the bassline-and-samples of his later stuff.

Dancing like a shaft of sunlight.

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