A Year in Music – Chris Hooson (Dakota Suite) – Questions by Killian Laher
What music stood out for you in 2017?
These are the things that impacted me for one reason or another (in the order I thought of them whilst typing this):
From the Mouth of The Sun – Hymn Binding
My man Dag Rosenqvist and his cello buddy Aaron Martin are two people I like, in Dags case, a LOT. Jasper TX was always stellar, but this partnership is making some top, top music. I loved the previous release by these two, but this one hits a very, very sweet spot indeed. It may even be my favourite record of the year.
Handmade limited, vinyl pressing of another of my very favourite artists, the mighty Hayato Aoki makes blissfully beautiful guitar music that makes Loren Connors mellow attempts seem like a dead hamster with no hands trying to play the guitar. Blissfully beautiful. The very sound of your heart and every dream you ever had. This is long sold out on vinyl and I was lucky enough to have Hayato give me a copy when I was in Japan recently, but boy, oh boy do you need to have this in your life.
Balmorhea – Clear language
I think this band are seriously underrated, constantly shifting, but this one, wow, I LOVE it. The tunes on this are immense, sometimes folky, sometimes pop, always brilliant.
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async
A career, life defining work. If you don’t have this, you must run to the nearest place which stocks this and buy it. Now.
Haruka Nakamura – Curtain Call
Haruka is one of my favourite musicians, he makes super chamber music, sadly mostly on CD, which is an issue for me! But this came out on vinyl, and what a beauty it is…. everything Haruka does is magic.
Sonicbrat – Murmurations
Another great release by Kitchen label, but again on fucking CD!!! Where’s the vinyl guys! Nice piano and textures.
Alfa Mist – Antiphon
Now, this chap I LIKE. It’s nice in a funky sleepy fender rhodes kind of way, mellow trumpet and beats….nice. Saw this in Leeds this week, but boy oh boy, why the fuck do younger folks go to gigs like this to just chat their way through it…I wanted to set the place on fire!
Aitor Etxebarria – Markak
This is a soundtrack to a film about the Guernica bombings, extremely lovely music in a beautifully printed heavyweight vinyl sleeve.
Christoph Berg – Conversations
I do like sonic pieces very much, and this is a highpoint for them.
Joseph Shabason – Aytche
Great tunes on this, mellow, saxophone type lushness. Excited by this chap, lets see what he does next!
Arve Henriksen – Towards Language
I do love me some Arve, saw him live this year with his Trio Mediaeval in Leeds, otherworldly good. This record is a return to form for me after some of the previous releases, which have been a bit too slight for me.
Hudson – Hudson
Jazz supergroup Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski & John Scofield, how can you not like this??? Super mellow grooves on this one, just a total pity its not on vinyl, are you listening Motema records, WTF!!!!
Jeff Parker – Slight Freedom
How good is Jeff Parker, forget Tortoise, ‘new breed’ was incredible, and this solo effort is just soooo good. Visionary, visionary.
Any discoveries that had passed you by previously that made sense this year?
Yes, that happens quite a bit, as it’s so hard to get all that the net holds into the boat. I bought that repress of ‘Hex’ by Bark Psychosis, which I didn’t really like when it came out, but boy has that gestated well over the years. Brooding in a very Talk Talk kind of way.
I also got into the back catalogue of Kikagaku Moyo in a big way, particularly the self-titled one from 2013. I also bought ‘tracks and traces’ (previously issued as Harmonia ’76) by Eno and Harmonia on Greenland, wow, that was fantastic, and I have been dealing deeper into Krautrock more than I have previously.
I also stumbled onto recordings by Djivan Gasparyan, particularly the sublime ‘Sayat Nova’, which I am still trying to hunt down a vinyl copy of.
I had tended to overlook Herbie Hancock’s 70’s funk stuff, but boy oh boy did I get a kick to the face in the form of ‘Fat Albert Rotunda’. My pianist Quentin Sirjacq would play this on the way to the sessions for our recordings in Japan this October (I had been waxing on about my purchase of the complete Sun Bear Concert on vinyl by Keith Jarrett- 10, yes, 10 record set by ECM), which led us to discuss the various merits of each pianist employed by the Miles Davis groups through the years. So we came to Herbie…obviously. Boy oh boy, how good is ‘Fat Albert Rotunda’, the opener ‘wiggle waggle’ whoah! It smacks you around like that Keith Jarrett track ‘The Rich (And the Poor)’ off Treasure Island, another previously overlooked mid 70’s record for me. Unbelievably heavy grooves on those songs, proving that the jazzmen can also move it. So I am digging into Herbie’s mid 70’s stuff for real this year….
Are you still buying music? Any recommendations as to where?
Are you kidding me? I spend gargantuan amounts on vinyl this and every other year:-) It is often an issue in the Hooson household. But I see it as essential as my next breath, music gives me life and is extremely restorative to me.
I buy all my new music from the mighty Norman Records in Leeds, they are an online place, but I go there and pick my stuff up each Friday on my way home from work. They are the best, at Norman Records, super good guys who you can trust and who take care of you like nobody else, they have the attitude of your favourite old school record shop, with the efficiency of the internet. I also use discogs.com for the rare stuff like my first pressings of stuff like the 1965 bollywood classic ‘gumnaam’ and other such ephemera. I like to keep it local, no amazon for me. Everyone should utilise Norman Records, the best there is, bar none.
Sometimes it seems there are as many rereleases as new albums. Are you interested in reissued albums?
I am when the original pressings have been in my discogs basket for ages at over £100:-) But yes, I am if they are long lost treasures, but too often it’s about supermarkets pushing out yet more repressing of Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac etc. And that sucks a pony’s gaping asshole.
That Radiohead one was good though (OKNOTOK), but it makes me hope for reissues of all of their records with all the outtakes on there… Also, I was super happy to get a nice pressing of ‘The Awakening’ by Ahmad Jamal, seriously good trio music there, and that Thelonious Monk boxset from Les Liaisons Dangereus, wow. Expensive, but…. wow.
I long for the day when truly important records are re-pressed, stuff like Power of Soul by Idris Muhammad or 25 nights by Nujabes….and, why oh why oh why are ECM not repressing Tabula Rasa by Arvo Part?!?!!? I mean they are repressing Jan Gabarek shit, but not one of the top three most essential recordings of all time? I don’t get that at all. We need a public outcry about this……
How are things going yourself? Any plans for 2018?
Yep, I am OK. I have found our global political landscape very taxing these past few years, I have become more politically active in the Labour Party, but I fear for the world our children will inherit. It’s so nauseatingly entered around a myopic viewpoint and narrow self-interest, it’s becoming hard to bear. I don’t understand why more people aren’t seriously agitated about it.
I am not sure if 2018 will represent the final resting place for me musically, in terms of what I put out. I have been finding it increasingly hard to release what I make, the impact of hearing my plaintive cries to my lover in song are becoming harder for me to expose to a wider public setting. I don’t know….. but I have been finishing up my two last ever records with hope that find a resonance with anyone who feels like I do.
As always, these are soundtracks to the emotional failures of my life as I see and feel it. I was in Japan in October on tour, and Quentin Sirjacq and I recorded a new record whilst there, it’s piano, vibes, treatments and voices, this is being mixed at the moment and will be called ‘the indestructibility of the already felled’. I am also, as we speak, doing final recording work on a project I have been working with Dag Rosenqvist on for the past 2 years and which is so nearly complete. That is a dark meditation around loss and experiencing life as something you can only see the dim outlines of, but which you know you need to coax gently, but somewhat gingerly towards you. That is tentatively titled ‘moving on is its own rebuke’ or ‘to love what death can touch’…. not sure yet.
And then it’s over for me. More time for riding my vintage Triumph Bonneville around the moors. See you out there.