Archive for the ‘Jon Hassell’ Category

Soundtrack to my Life

November 4, 2007


In 1985, my mom came home from a music appreciation class she was enrolled in at Cal State Long Beach, and she handed me a homemade cassette that some guy had given her in class (I think he might have been hitting on her!). She had already listened to it, and while she liked it, it wasn’t her cup of tea. Knowing I was always on the prowl for cassettes to tape my songs, she left it for me on my bed with a note saying “Free tape. Just erase what’s on it first.” 

The tape lay hidden under my dirty clothes for a week or so, until one day I dug it out to use for an idea I was having. I put the tape in the recorder and hit play so that I could wind out the leader. Suddenly, the most incredible sounds—not quite melodies, but yet, kind of—oozed from my speakers. My spine began to tingle, sending me into a trance-like state, and there I remained motionless for the entire length of the tape. I never recorded my idea. 

When I saw my mom again, I demanded to know who the artist was, but she didn’t know either. Worse yet, her class was over and she didn’t know how to contact the guy who gave it to her (plus, I don’t think she wanted to). So, I spent the next couple of years trying to figure out who this was. I played the tape for my friends who worked in record shops; I gave copies of it away, hoping someone would recognize who it was; basically, I was obsessed.  

Then one day I played it for a small record shop owner who said “Well, it sounds like that record Jon Hassel and Brian Eno collaborated on a few years back, but then again, it sounds a bit off.” I asked him if he had the record in question, and he did, so I bought it. I ran home, put in on my turntable and waited for the familiar ether to envelope my consciousness. It started playing, and at that point I understood the words of the record shop owner. It was playing too slow!! Wait, I mean the cassette was playing too fast! What’s happening here! It was when I cranked the turntable speed up that I realized the guy who gave my mom the tape years ago taped it at 45 rpm!!  

Possible Musics Fourth World Vol 1 by Jon Hassel and Brian Eno is the soundtrack for my life. It expresses what I feel in my soul, what I hear in my head, and what I see when I shut my eyes in silence. It’s been about twenty years, but I still can’t listen to it at 33 1/3 rpm; it has to be 45 rpm. It makes sense why the music doesn’t elevate me at 33 1/3 rpm—the frequencies that tingle my spine just don’t exist at the slower speed. 

Here is a link to one of the tracks, Ba Benzele, played at 45 rpm. Since there is no actual video for this, I’ve created a visual counterpart to go with it. To see it on youtube, where you can enlarge the screen, follow this link: Otherwise, you can just click below. So, turn the lights out, enlarge the video, and chill out for a bit.