jon hassell | atmospherics | dream theory in malaya
Jon Hassell atmospherics : stories in words and pictures

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dream theory in malaya

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1981 Dream Theory in Malaya / Fourth World Vol.2—Someplace I run across an essay called 'Dream Theory in Malaya' by an adventurer-ethnologist named Kilton Stewart describing a "dream tribe"—the Senoi—in Malaya (before it become "Malaysia"). Soon I'm having an affair with the cinematic sound of the word "Malaya" and all that it evokes: exotically-tuned melodies, gongs, birdcalls in the jungle. (Later I'll have a little romance with an exotically-tuned woman from Kuala Lumpur that fills in the rest of the fantasy.) I'm in a different loft in the same building on Park Avenue South, practicing an invented exotic scale on top of a tambura-like drone consisting of a set of sine tones that I've tuned as a guide to keep me on the Indonesian-type tuning that nobody ever tried to play on a trumpet before.

A book called Primitive Peoples had a record inside with little snippets of music recorded around the world by a BBC team accompanying the Queen on her tour of the Commonwealth and one of them is this beautiful watersplash rhythm with giggling children and birds from a tribe—the Semelai—which, on my map, doesn't look too far away from the Senoi so l built a rather elaborate musical form by cutting and pasting a few selected bars of this, and that became the basis for Malay, the centerpiece of the record.

I had heard from Brian about a couple of enterprising and talented brothers, Bob and Daniel Lanois who had set up a nice studio in a house on Grant Ave., in Hamilton, not far from Toronto, who were offering exceptional rates and I decided to make this record there, commuting from Michael Brook's house in Toronto with my dog, Beeper. Michael was helping to coordinate the recording and I'd do sketches in his basement studio then drive to Hamilton where Brian was hanging out chez Lanois and start to put things down on multitrack. >>