A Year in Music – 2018 – Chris Hooson (Dakota Suite) – Part 1 by Killian Laher
What are your favourite albums of 2018?
Aaron Parks – Little Big
I have loved Aaron’s music since his first release on Blue Note (Invisible Cinema), he is hard to define, it’s a driving very European style of jazz, but laced with a New York flavour. He does trio stuff and solo piano also, but this is where he is at his best, mesmerising looping tunes. This is driving grooves in the main with a consistent melody with guitar and percussion crashing against it. Highly recommended.
Kamaal Williams – The Return
Wow, and I mean WOW! If this represents the new wave of young chaps hitting the scene, I am all in. Urban, groovy, funky. Essential. The bass on opener “Salaam’, holy SHIT!
Ryo Fukui – Scenery
Ok, this is a reissue, but I have had super expensive original pressings of this in my discogs basket at £300+ for years. So this was re-released this year and I jumped all over this and the other two (A Letter from Slowboat and Mellow Dream). Beautiful trio jazz from the Japanese master. There have been a lot of reissues of Japanese masters from the late 70’s and early 80’s this year and for me that is a super good thing. The reissues are selling out super quick too, so they will be hard to find probably by the time this is published. Shame as this is soooo good.
bvdub – Drowning in Daylight
This is another record of the year contender for me. Four long techno/ambient pieces across two discs, epic and very moving. It’s nostalgic and containing in a very otherworldly sense. Very delicate but the use of texture on this record is very economical and precise. Takes you on a long meandering journey into yourself. Not background music, you have to settle into this and ask not to be disturbed.
Wang Wen – Invisible City
I tell you, these boys from Dalian in the far north of China are deserving of higher levels of awareness than I see them getting. I have long been a fan of Mono, God is An Astronaut and that type of long form melodic post rock thing, and for me, there is nobody alive doing this to the same standard as Wang Wen. I include Mono in this and that pains me to say out loud. Their entire body of work is incredible, but this latest release really takes things up several levels. They recorded this in Iceland and introduce more textures and synths, the tunes, oh sweet lord. Epic in scope and better developed than anyone else working in this area of music. Possibly my favourite record of the year.
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
A lot of people will have this as their fave record, I reckon. What’s not to like about Courtney, she just gets better and better. Need A Little Time is achingly beautiful.
All India Radio – Space
Martin Kennedy is the man behind this awfully titled band from Australia. He releases lovely down tempo trip hoppy type music. The majority of his releases are very high quality and there are dozens of them on his bandcamp page! Lately he’s been releasing very, very good records, last year’s “The Slow Light” was a particular favourite of mine, and this one is really good too. Based on the discarded artwork from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, it’s a tribute to the vibe of that, but as imagined by a very sleepy transient/ambient band. Very spacey and trippy.
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Glass
Everything Sakamoto does is essential and this is no different, shimmering spectral loveliness The very sound of your life moving slowly from one breath to the next.
Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
This is the second release from Khruangbin and both are excellent, stoner 60’s Thai influenced space rock from the Texan trio. Really enjoy their music.
Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples
Kikagaku Moyo are one of those ace bands that a lot of people also seem unaware of and lazily slot into the stoner rock drawer. The latest record stretches out and is more groove based than some of their other releases. I love this record, it has cut up beats and shifting melodies, is reminiscent of Cornelius one moment then Grateful Dead the next! Yeah, not easy to make those seamless shifts work, but boy do these guys do that well. It’s another really good example of how Japanese music doesn’t approach music from a snobbish binary perspective but goes wherever it likes irrespective of myopic approaches to music often employed by western music. I saw this band live a few months ago and it was truly epic.
Kurt Vile – Bottle it In
I love me some Kurt Vile, this is a lovely record, and the trippy title track I can listen to on repeat for hours, it’s very easy on the ear on one level but on another it’s a very melancholy and isolated record.
Lars Danielsson & Paolo Fresu – Summerwind
This is on the ever impressive ACT Music label. This is a gem of a record, double bass and trumpet duos but exceptionally recorded and beautiful. ‘Le Matin’ is so aching and mournful it breaks my heart.
An urban hip hop jazz supergroup with Robert Glasper, Common and Terence Martin amongst others, love the movement and pace of this record. I like the August Green record that Grasper and Common were also on this year but the variety and craft in this one tipped out for me when thinking which to choose.
The Bad Plus – Never Stop II
Could The Bad Plus survive the departure of Ethan Iverson? Yep, and for me the addition of Orrin Evans has made this group better than ever. I loved Iverson but he was a bit static and predictable for me. Orrin is much more fluid and graceful, and this is important for me with this band as everything, and I mean the melody and song, everything serves as a vehicle to showcase the true genius of this band. That person is Dave King, the drummer. The man is immense and one of the greatest drummers of all time and I could watch him all day long….this record is brilliant. Long live The Bad Plus!
Gogo Penguin – A Humdrum Star
My son and I have loved Gogo Penguin since the start and go see them every time we can. This new record is for me better than their Blue Note debut (Man Made Object), lovely shifting open melody. I love these guys, but their growing audience of hipsters as evidenced by their huge Manchester show last month at the Albert Hall can piss off. There was a shift this year in that Jacob and I saw them in February at Gorilla and that was ace and the crowd were into it and reverent… the Albert Hall show in November was full of shitty nose powder idiots (!). Very annoying.
Find out more about Dakota Suite here.