maarifa street: touchstones 3/5

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Aka-Darbari-Java / Magic Realism


My 1983 record, Aka-Darbari-Java / Magic Realism, a fantasy mosaic that stretched across geography and time with the sounds of Pygmies, Javanese gamelan and Hollywood orchestrations from the fifties. (Graced by another beautiful Mati Klarwein painting, 'Soundscape', from 1982.) In many ways Maarifa Street gives off some of the same atmosphere and inspired me to subtitle it Magic Realism 2.


From the album notes:


MAGIC REALISM • Like the video technique of "keying in" where any background may be electronically inserted or deleted independently of foreground, the ability to bring the actual sound of musics of various epochs and geographical origins all together in the same compositional frame marks a unique point in history. A trumpet, branched into a chorus of trumpets by computer, traces the motifs of the Indian raga DARBARI over Senegalese drumming recorded in Paris and a background mosaic of frozen moments from an exotic Hollywood orchestration of the 1950's (a sonic texture like a "Mona Lisa" which, in close up, reveals itself to be made up of tiny reproductions of the Taj Mahal), while the ancient call of an AKA pygmy voice in the Central African Rainforest—transposed to move in sequences of chords unheard of until the 20th century—rises and fails among gamelan-like cascades, multiplications of a single "digital snapshot" of a traditional instrument played on the Indonesian island of JAVA, on the other side of the world. Music which is to this degree self-referential, in which larger parts are related to and/or generated from smaller parts, shares certain qualities with "white" classical music of the past.

AKA/DARBARI/JAVA is a proposal for a "coffee-colored" classical music of the future—both in terms of the adoption of entirely new modes of structural organisation (as might be suggested by the computer ability to re-arrange, dot-by-dot, a sound or video image) and in terms of the expansion of the "allowable" musical vocabulary in which one may speak this structure—leaving behind the ascetic face which Eurocentric tradition has come to associate with serious expression.

jon hassell—1983



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