Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics

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Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics
Studio album by
Jon Hassell & Brian Eno
Released 1980
Recorded 1980, Celestial Sounds,
New York City
AGO, Toronto (live)
Genre Avant-garde, ambient, world music
Length 45:05
Label E.G., Polydor
Producer Brian Eno with
Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell & Brian Eno chronology
Earthquake Island
Possible Musics
Dream Theory in Malaya
Brian Eno chronology
Ambient 3: Day of Radiance
Possible Musics
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (A)[2]

Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics is an album by Jon Hassell and Brian Eno, released in 1980.


Fourth world music is a synonym of world music.[3][4] Trumpeter Jon Hassell uses it to describe a style of music employing modern technological treatments and influenced by various cultures and eras. He wanted the music in this album to be "future primitive", or "a coffee-coloured classical music".[need quotation to verify]

Hassell had studied Indian classical music with singer Pandit Pran Nath, and later applied the vocal techniques to his trumpet playing. Together with Eno, he melded the sounds from his instrument with digital delay, echo, and electronic effects to produce a unique blend of ambient and world music.

Hassell's trumpet is the dominant instrument on the whole album, yet, it almost never sounds like one. In "Chemistry" it possesses the quality of a flute; very soft and breathy. At the same time it has an electronic, "treated" edge and "warbles" on the higher notes. A simple, slide bass motif backed by low congas forms the background. "Delta Rain Dream" is similar, minus the bass, and the congas have a more Burundi feel to them, albeit slow and dreamy.

Handclaps are used as percussion in "Griot", which was recorded live at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The trumpet sounds like a broken recording of a wounded animal and also plays a light, high drone in the background, providing a sense of literal ambience. The same trumpet-sound dominates "Ba-Benzélé", which features the return of the congas, and a synth background.

"Rising Thermal" repeats a 4-note, tape-looped trumpet with a heavily treated trumpet over the top that sounds like an eerie human voice. "Charm", which took up the whole second side of the original LP release, is based on some of the longer pieces of Hassell's 1977 album "Vernal Equinox" (1). The voice, this time, sounds like an animal, backed by congas and ghatan and light synths in a drone; the composition is merely a repetition of parts. The trumpets feature a reverse echo.

A live version of "Ba-Benzélé", recorded at the Ontario College of Art on 14 November 1981, later appeared on the compilation album "Music and Rhythm" (WEA K 68045). Eno was playing in the band. (Link).

The album's cover photo is a Landsat photo of the area south of Khartoum in Sudan. The map coordinates in "Rising Thermal" ("14°16'N, 32°28'E") translate to the area shown in the photo. The river is the White Nile, which is also the name of a Sudanese state.

Eno took what he learned from making this album and put it to use in his collaboration with David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Hassell apparently considered that album too "commercial", and castigated Eno in Andy Warhol's Interview magazine for his methods and "lack of musical pedigree". Eventually, they were reconciled.[5]

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Chemistry" (Jon Hassell, Brian Eno) – 6:50
  2. "Delta Rain Dream" (Hassell, Eno) – 3:26
  3. "Griot (Over 'Contagious Magic')" (Hassell) – 4:00
  4. "Ba-Benzélé" (Hassell) – 6:15
  5. "Rising Thermal 14° 16' N; 32° 28' E" (Hassell, Eno) – 3:05

Side two[edit]

  1. "Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud')" (Hassell) – 21:29


Country Label Cat. No. Media Release Date
UK Editions EG EGED 7 LP April 1980
US Editions EG EGS 107 LP April 1980
France Polydor 2335 207 LP 1980
US Caroline 1537-2 LP 1980
US Editions EG EEGCD 7 CD 1992
US Plan 9/Caroline 107 CD 1992
Germany Glitter Beat GPLP 019 LP/CD 2014


  • Jon Hassell – trumpet, Prophet 5 touches on "Delta Rain Dream", "Aular" loop on "Rising Thermal", Arp loops on "Charm"
  • Brian Eno – background cloud guitars on "Delta Rain Dream", Prophet 5 "Starlight" background on "Ba-Benzélé", high altitude Prophet on "Rising Thermal", rare MiniMoog & treatments on "Charm"
  • Percy Jones – bass on "Chemistry"
  • Naná Vasconçelosghatam, congas, loop drum
  • Aïyb Dieng – ghatam, congas
  • Michael Brook – bass on "Griot"
  • Paul Fitzgerald – electronics on "Griot"
  • Gordon Philips – handclaps on "Griot"
  • Andrew Timar – handclaps on "Griot"
  • Tina Pearson – handclaps on "Griot"
  • Jerome Harris – bass on "Ba-Benzélé"
  • Night Creatures of Altamira – on "Rising Thermal"

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Michael Jay – engineer
  • Pete Sobol – assistant engineer
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Cream – cover
  • William Coupon – Hassell photo
  • Roberta Bayley – Eno photo

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Robert Christgau: CG: Jon Hassell/Brian Eno
  3. ^ Shaefer, John (1987). New Sounds: A Listener's Guide to New Music. New York: Harper & Row. p. 113. ISBN 9780060550547. OCLC 14377581. 
  4. ^ Olsen, Dale A. (1992). "World Music and Ethnomusicology: Understanding the Differences". Department of Ethnomusicology. UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Gross, Jason (July 1997). "Jon Hassell interview". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 

External links[edit]