A Year in Music – Interview with Chris Hooson of Dakota Suite by Killian Laher.
We had the chance to ask Chris Hooson of Dakota Suite about 2016. You can see the results below. It’s a quite stunning insight into his musical tastes and we’d recommend you take a while to listen to the various musicians below.
What music grabbed you in the last year, can be new or old?
Bremer McCoy – Forsvinder
I had not caught their previous releases when they came out, but having heard Forsvinder, I immediately set about tracking them down on vinyl, which was NOT easy! Really ace music based around double bass and electric piano.
Jeff Parker – the new breed
I have listened to this record non stop since I bought it…..had the same impact on me as the last ex record when that came out. Really lovely.
Piero Piccioni – Lo Straniero
I have grown to love Italian film soundtracks from the 50’s and 60’s. This is one of my favourite Piccioni ones, and I managed to finally track down a vinyl copy in Italy this year! Ace melancholy jazz/classical/lounge vibe.
Quentin Sirjacq – Islands and Far Places
I have to put forward this record by my collaborator and brother, Quentin Sirjacq, its taken his music to the next level, amazing piano/neo classical but with a beat to it this time.
Dungen – Häxan
As with the Jeff Parker record, this was one which doesn’t fit neatly into any category as such, but really amazing music it is. It began as a score to the 1926 film The Adventures Of Prince Achmed, but ended up wandering off course into more abstract and witchy territory. The results are lush and super evocative.
Gerald Wilson – you better believe it / ‘romance’ from ‘theme for Monteray’
Not new at all, but I am a MAJOR Wilson disciple. I have been listening to these two records most weeks of the year. It’s hard to beat Gerald for orchestration and his string patterns.
I quite liked this debut release from the up and coming saxophonist. I didn’t like all of it, but it shows HUGE promise.
Jimi Tenor – Mysterium Magnum & Saxentric
What can you say about Jimi T? The man is incredible, arrangements to die for. I cannot believe that this man is not universally lauded. I bought both these records this year. One at the start of the year and one last week.
Sweet Home Go! I really like this Chinese band, I was obsessed with 0.7, which came out a few years back, and this new one is very nice. Kind of like Mono from Japan, but more melodic.
Mina – Napoli
I re-visited this due to ‘the night of tv thing’, and have been listening to it quite a bit in the later half of this year. Italian genius of all sorts of musical types. I like her late 50’s period the most, but this later career record is part of a Napoli trilogy of sorts, which are amongst my favourite of hers.
I have always liked BBNG, I don’t like this one as much as ‘III’, but when it’s doing its thing it is really special.
Lee Moses (1971) – Time and Place
I have always been partial to this mellow R&B/Soul type stuff, I can remember hearing the Delfonics when I was quite young as well as Chairman of The Board and really liking it. It’s up there with Baby Huey and the Babysitters for great ‘lost’ records….
Tonbruket – Forevergreens
Good Scandi-Jazz in an EST type way. Not as good as that, but I really liked this record.
Stefano Guzzetti – Leaf
Pretty, just… pretty as hell.
Federico Albanese – the blue hour
I was very impressed with this record, along with Fabrizio Paterlini he is my favourite type of ambient piano player lately. It annoys the shit out of me that people deify that twit Ludovico Einaudi when music of this calibre is WAY better.
Opeth – Sorceress
Who doesn’t love Opeth? The new one was a real shift in places from what has come before, which I LOVE!
I also saw more than my usual share of live shows this year. My highlights were:
Kamasi Washington at Manchester, holy SHIT, this man is the TRUTH! The Epic totally blew my mind when it came out so I was excited to go see him live.
GoGo Penguin at Leeds, I went to see this with my 14 year old son, Jacob, as he really loves Jazz, and we both enjoyed this show. Terrible sound (shame on you Wardrobe in Leeds!), but great to be there.
Mono at Leeds, I have to say that this is the 4th time I have seen Mono, and I count the two shows at the mighty Brudenell Social Club in Leeds as in my top ten shows of all time. So intense I wanted to smash my face into a wall…Literally.
Neil Young at Leeds, I have been avoiding Neil for years after not liking anything post ‘Sleeps with Angels’. However, having seen youtube footage of this too I decided to attend. Great show and I heard Neil play some songs I have waited him to play for my entire life.
Bad Plus at Leeds. Great show, I saw them when they played at the Howard Assembly Rooms when they last came to Leeds, and have seen them a few other times. I could watch Dave King drum until I fall unconscious, the man is a genius.
Mulatu Astake at Leeds, Johanna (his wife) and I really like Mulatu and this show was incredible. I don’t think I have seen anything like it, ever.
Steven Isserlis at Leeds, Johanna and I saw Steven Isserlis (cello) and Connie Shih (Piano). We love all Steven Isserlis’ work, particularly the stuff with Tavener (Protecting Veil etc), so to see him play Debussy, Fauré, Bridge’s first world war era pieces & Beethoven Cello/Piano sonatas was brilliant. Very lovely evening!
Anything that fell short of expectations?
I try to avoid most musical things I think ‘may’ disappoint, and there’s a lot of that out there! So mostly I don’t hear things that I don’t like too much.
I was looking forward to Orphée by Jóhann Jóhannsson, but the themes were too short, so that was a little bit of a letdown, as was ‘the ship’ by Brian Eno.
2016 was a year punctuated by the deaths of significant musical figures (Bowie, Cohen, Lemmy, Prince). Any personal thoughts about this?
Meeting someone is only the first step towards loss in my experience, although this year has been particularly difficult. It does feel like we are losing things we will never be able to replace currently.
Sadly the death of integrity and values has been a far greater death when world politics is concerned. Those scars will take longer to heal.
Have you come across any books or movies or other art forms that excited you in the last 12 months?
I read a lot of books, it’s hard to list them all:-)
I finally got a copy of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin’s collected works, having been trying to find a long out of print copy for years. They were part of a Soviet art collective known as the ‘paper anarchists’ working in the 1980s. Their work imagines fantastical outlandish and impossible structures….you REALLY need to see them, incredible. I am obsessed with them.
Other books I have read this year? Well I have been re-reading all the ‘Fletch’ novels by Gregory McDonald. I also finally read ‘A Man Called Ove’ which everyone had been going on to me about, and Johanna and I read it as did both our boys, hilarious! I read a ton of mafia biographies to prepare for our holiday to Sicily and also read some of the Montalbano books:-). I read a few books on Autism (as I have that diagnosis myself…). I also read ‘Wind/Pinball’ by Haruki Murakami.
Films? I really liked Deadpool, which I watched with my son, Jacob, at his behest. I watched that Miles Davis bio-pic “Miles Ahead’ by Don Cheadle, really enjoyed that. I got a sneak peak at ‘I Called Him Morgan’ which is about my very favourite trumpet jazzer, Lee Morgan. That was ace. I watched the Adam Curtis film called ‘Hyper Normalisation’ which was as stimulating as all of his films. I was moved by ‘13th’ about the black prison population in the USA, as I work therapeutically with those who have committed offences, this was very interesting to me. Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-raq’ I also liked. I also found 2015’s ‘The Wolfpack’ about a family with kids who are raised in total isolation to be utterly mesmerising.
Johanna and I saw quite a few things at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this year. We particularly liked The Angie Lewin stuff, David Shirley was good, as was a collection by Eduardo Paolozzi.
Johanna has been taking pictures all year, and there have been so many pictures that I have been obsessed with, to the point of putting them on my desktop and looking at them for hours on end. I wish that the world could see them every day like I do. Truly life changing/nurturing.
I rode my motorbike (Bernard, my old triumph bonneville) a LOT as per usual, all over the North Yorkshire moors each weekend and some longer trips, like to an old broken down house overlooking Portavadie harbour on the west coast of Scotland with my biker posse. Nothing really compares to that elemental feeling you get from riding a motorbike. For me that is also an art form. Disprove that if you dare.
I backed a kickstarter for Osamu Tezuka’s ‘under the air/the crater/melody of iron’ books to get re-printed. I am REALLY looking forward to these, especially as I backed the original ‘the crater’ kickstarter by someone who then ran off with all the pledges. I had to look at original stills from the book at the Tezuka museum in 2015 and thought I’d never get to read it! As a house we venerate Osamu. His work is life changing.
Do musical formats (records/CDs/mp3s/streams etc) play a part in your world? What’s your preference?
Er, yes:-) I am a vinyl guy, I don’t own a CD player:-) For me it’s vinyl for beauty & truth or super high res AIFF/WAV files for my music player on the motorbike.
Your collaboration with Vampillia was possibly your most unusual project to date. What can we expect next in the world of Dakota Suite?
Yes, ‘The Sea Is Never Full’ was very costly for me to make on an emotional level. I had toured Japan just before the Tsunami and it took me three years to get this reflection and cathartic response to it into place. I recognise that it will have been really taxing for some of our regular listeners, but I HAD to make it to get that sadness out of me. I can see now how, if people aren’t aware of what it represents for me, which are the individual phases of the tragedy and how it flowed in me, that it could be somewhat confusing.
In terms of what’s next, I am just finishing a project that I have been working on all year called ‘The Indestructibility of the already felled’. This is an ambient record made with Dag Rosenqvist (you may know him as Jasper TX) and Emanuele Errante. There is also a little bit of Machinefabriek on there too:-). I am really excited about it as its very claustrophobic and eerie. I have really tried to convey how the inner working scoff the autistic mind work and how it ‘sounds’ like to interact with the world on a day to day level.
There is also a release of a live recording that Quentin Sirjacq and I did whilst touring in japan in 2015, this is a Bill Evans/Tony Bennett type affair:-) Quentin and I had been talking about having the courage to strip the songs down to the bare minimum and just present the ‘scaffolding’ and the words for some time, we are both immensely proud of the result. That is out this month on CD and vinyl early next year.
Then I am doing a joint project with singer Chantal Acda, where we both write songs for the other to sing on…that is being recorded as we speak. We have finished two songs and they are lovely. Finally, I am trying to get a ‘Stooges’ type record out of my system. Who knows what will happen with that.
As per usual, I am busy.