A Year in Music – 2018 – Chris Hooson (Dakota Suite) – Part 2 by Killian Laher
What are your favourite albums of 2018?
Wow, lovely this one. I really like Kitchen Label, which is a small indie label in Singapore. All their releases are great and their next one Loenn Kin is going to be epic too. This one is a truly exceptional, delicate beauty. Think of a mix between the delicate piano of Debussy and epic minimalistic scores by Greek compatriot Karaindrou and you will get where she is coming from. The sort of melody that people like Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm (All Melody my arse, what an immense irony and disappointment that was!) can only dream of.
Francis Harris – Trivial Occupations
This New York based producer has released masses of music and its very varied in style and temperament, but all of it is worthwhile. The latest follows on from ‘Leland’ which I loved. Trip hop underwater type music. Very, very good.
Troker – Imperfecto
Ace jazz rock mash up with mariachi from these Mexican geniuses. I love the energy of this record, the opener ‘Dynamo’ one of the best tunes all year, any year.
Christian Scott – Stretch Music
Lovely jazz but also Glasper -esque in its hybrid urban newness. ‘Perspectives’ is immense on this, a new Miles for this generation perhaps?
Toshio Matsuura Group – Loveplaydance 8 scenes from the floor
Legendary Tokyo DJ releases an astonishing record of covers in a new and very very engaging way. This has the Sons of Kemet drummer on it, which is a plus and is one of those very ‘now’ jazz records. ‘L.M. II’, just incredible.
Zuzu – What You Want
I hesitate to add this as it’s not at all what I usually listen to. I have to say this is Scouse pop at its best, and this song in particular is really catchy and I find myself listening to it over and over. Zuzu has not released her first full length record yet (the 10” ‘Made by Humans’ is an opening teaser), but I predict that she will be HUGE in 2019. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.
I could go on, I have already missed out so much music I have loved, it’s been a good year for music.
Any artists you discovered this year that you can’t be without?
Nope. Nobody new as such, there are so any good records this year but not many by artists I was not already aware of, Zuzu being the exception to that:-)
Are there any personal highlights, musical or otherwise from 2018?
I’ve been looking at a lot of photography this year. Daidō Moriyama’s growing body of street photography is immense, Yosuke Yajima’s ‘ourselves 1981’ was a beautiful study of being disconnected and almost completely diluted by ourselves and surroundings. Jeffrey Conley’s ‘reverence’ was a stunning collection of branches and trees….epic. Another one I loved for its otherworldly eeriness was ‘Bright Black World by Todd Hiro. Epic landscapes and all of them dark and lonely. Stunning.
I had a song used by one of my early teenage heroes, Nick Kelly from The Fat Lady Sings’ (‘Twist’ is one of the greatest ever debuts of all time, every song on that is a classic) in his first feature length film. ‘The Drummer and the Keeper’ was released to acclaim this year and I was invited to the première in London but couldn’t attend, so I still haven’t seen it!
I have also been super thrilled to finally get the last instalment of Jason Lutes “Berlin” trilogy (Graphic Novel), which tells the story of the inter war years Weimar republic in Berlin. It’s an astonishing body of work and warns us about where we are now and the dangers that are again emerging in respect of the far right. I have been observing these parallels for the past 8/9 years and it’s really troubling me. I have become much more politically active in the past few years and what is clear is that current political structures do not fit the purpose for how we are now and certainly not for our children. The political classes do not speak for us and we need something new going forwards. It has to be a strong left wing collectivist perspective which takes hold.
I have been increasing my study of typography this year also, particularly Japanese typography from the 1930s and 50s.
What inspires you these days?
I am inspired by the same thing every year, my partner Johanna. She is the glue that holds my world together and her own photography is breathtaking. I love seeing that and but for a chronic shortage of confidence around her work, I think she would be in a place to have it released and collected. It’s a real shame as it inspires me on a personal and emotional level. She is the very best thing that ever happened to me and I would simply not be alive were it not for her. She continues to overlook/tolerate my huge flaws and inconsistencies and demonstrate what a selfless love looks like.
How did the release of What Matters Most work out for you?
I have no idea, whenever I release a record I am done with it, I tend not to look at reviews or ask how it’s doing. That record took me almost three years to realise and it was a very stressful record to make. I am only ever in the current moment with respect to the music I make, which is akin to a personal cathartic journal to me.
How about next year, what’s ahead?
With respect to music, I have been working on the next two, ‘The Indestructibility of The Already Felled’ which will be out later this year and which I am really happy with. We recorded it in Yokohama last year, very different for me in that Quentin Sirjacq and I just rented a hall and went in with 2 or 3 sketches and just created a whole record in three days. It was magical and very pleasant. The last record I will ever release is the one I am mulling over right now. I have had an itch to do a very hard loud Stooges/jazz/ambient record which comments of the state of things now, which is making me piss angry. It’s slowly forming itself but I cannot decide how to get it out of my head and into a studio. Then I will be done and call it done. That will be enough for me.
I hope to return to Japan to promote the release of ‘The Indestructibility of The Already felled’ and travel there some more. I feel truly at home there and the emphasis on negative spaces ‘ma’ (間) is something I want to spend more time considering, particularly the idea of being in a space but not part of it whilst still contributing. This has links to my autistic self expression and is very important for how I navigate the world on an emotional level. Ma is often translated as negative space. However, ma is better understood as a free zone that allows for dissimilar things to co-exist. When we communicate something, we like to assume that the person will receive our message and understand it in the way that we intended. This is often not the case.
I will spend lots of time riding on Bernard (my vintage Triumph Bonneville) in the Yorkshire dales and that is perhaps the time when I most access the internal workings of myself on a very primal level.
I have had a long term ambition to visit the former head post office in Utrecht in the Netherlands, between 1917 and 1924, the former main post office, designed by J. Crouwel jr. was realised in the style of the Amsterdam school, inspired by the work of the Finnish architect Saarinen. It’s a stunning building and the interior is something I want to photograph.
I will be 50 next year and I hope to close off the commercial musical version of myself with my last release. I will always make music as I need to do that to express complex emotions that I have, but I will consciously choose not to publicly release anymore of them.
Find out more about Dakota Suite here.