Hassan is Jorge Velez’s soundtrack to an imaginary film based on the Order of Assassins, a shadowy Middle Eastern cult formed in the 11th century. Having entered a cinematic headspace, the Brooklyn-based synth auteur then decided to raise the conceptual stakes – he was going to pretend to be an Italian soundtrack producer working on the film’s score in the early 1980s; kind of like Eno’s oblique strategies, but more fun. Velez mostly limited himself to using analogue equipment that was readily accessible 30 years ago, drew up a rough movie plot in his head, and got to work. As such Hassan makes for an intriguing prospect, promising drama and intrigue before the needle even hits the record.
The output of New York based producer Jorge Velez exists on the fringes of the electronic music scene, inhabiting a world of limited run CD-Rs, occasional 7″s and a handful of scattered releases on various labels under various names. Unearthing his material, be it as Professor Genius, Duermo or one half of Bim Marx, is a reward for those who search for their music rather than let it come to them. To this point press coverage on Velez has been minimal, save for some fuss over his early Professor Genius material, released just as the Italians Do It Better label inadvertently kick-started an Italo revival of sorts.
Associating Velez solely with Mike Simonetti’s imprint is of course selling him short; it’s more accurate to portray him as a DIY producer in the truest sense, self releasing much of his material in small quantities. A long time cinephile who has carved a career as a video editor as well as a self-taught synthesizer boffin, it’s no surprise Velez’s latest musical venture, Hassan, combines his two loves, scoring an imaginary film about a cult of assassins in 13th century Persia. The release was due out on Ron Morelli’s Long Island Electrical Systems label last year, but a series of vinyl pressing issues has plagued the album and delayed the album’s release.
One can only hope that when Hassan does finally see the light of day, Velez will get his dues – in the meantime we sent out New York correspondent Nik Mercer over to the producer’s Jersey abode to discuss his uncompromising approach to releasing music, his involvement in the mail-art scene and the story behind Hassan…