Monday, April 6, 2009

Album Of The Week #3 - Dakota Suite's Alone With Everybody



OK I made my choice: the DsD Album Of The Week choice in the Dropbox is Dakota Suite's Alone With Everybody.

First things first, the short track in the vid isn't on AwE, but I thought Shane would appreciate the visuals. But back on topic ...

Dakota Suite is primarily a vehicle for Chris Hooson, with longtime support from guitarist David Buxton, and visuals & inspiration from Chris' other half, Johanna.

As close as my music collection gets to slavish worship of an enigma, I adore the melancholy feel that washes over me whenever I listen to Dakota Suite music. Veering from piano&silence minimalism (that will be familiar to those who own Mark Hollis' solo album) to fully-scored orchestral pieces, very little of the DS output is a "natural" fit for the DarceysDad reputation as a lover of guitar-heavy classic rock. But somehow it has almost all got under my skin in a way that very few of my friends can understand.

I won't deny that you need to be in an already-receptive mood to "get" this kind of stuff - ejaydee once emailed me about Dakota Suite with the one-line question "Why so blue, Rich?" The answer? "Well I dunno!" [Two bonus 'Spill points for naming the RR A-listed song that (spoken, not sung) quote comes from.]

The band's website will give you a fuller discography, most of which I own, and their MySpace page is always good for unreleased extras. But what you may notice is that I've chosen the album that is actually a compilation of sorts. There's a couple of reasons for that:
(i) It was the first DS album that I bought, based solely on the almost rabid ramblings of staff behind the counter of a now long-gone Bradford record shop.
(ii) It is possibly the most varied of DS albums, due to its compilation status. I reckon this gives me the best chance of at least some of it scoring some hits on you lot.

No, Chris' voice isn't brilliant. No, there's no viable radioplay or accessible hooks in here. But for me, Dakota Suite music is mostly a thing of quiet beauty, and in these 100mph, stressful times, it is ... as I've said before ... balm for the soul.

Dakota Suite rarely tour. Chris has issues about that, and is hugely dedicated to his career in social care. He does however, interact online with a dedicated fan base. I once tried to become part of that crowd, but unfortunately I seriously misjudged the tone of a question from him, and rather badly offended him in my reply. I've never heard from them / been on the mailing list since.

:o(

That hasn't hurt my love for the music, and I submit for your listening pleasure one of the albums I'd definitely take to my desert island.
Enjoy ... discuss ... and please don't leave me hanging here looking like the stood-up sadsack outside the cinema. (I can't tell you how ridiculously nervous this had made me feel!)
UPDATE - I'VE NOW DROPBOXED THE ALBUM AGAIN IN MP3 FORMAT. SORRY TO THE NON-WINDOWS USERS!

34 comments:

saneshane said...

Don't feel nervous DsD.. I've watched the clip, for some reason it reminded me of Richard Bach book 'Illusions' don't ask me why - you don't want to know were my head goes! - this is a good thing by the way.

I have zane running around at the moment, so I'll cook his tea and wait til his mamas back, then settle down for a listen this evening... I have managed to work out WMP and where they disappeared to when I downloaded it.. so it'll be straight into the tunes.

steenbeck said...

DsD--I listened to a couple of tracks and then went to pick Malcolm up from school and it was in my head the whole time. In a good way! It is melancholy, but I like it very much. I think if there's any intersection between your musical taste and mine it lies around here. It reminds me of wilco a bit or maybe Cowboy Junkies. I like the slide guitar. I actually like his voice a lot. I like the simplicity of it--even when there's more going on. And now I'll listen to the rest while Malcolm and I build something out of legos. Back later with more...

Shoegazer said...

Melancholly orchestral music & a vocalist who can't sing - are you sure it's not the Tindersticks? Anyway, sounds like it's going to be my kind of thing - will listen later.

DarceysDad said...

And by the way, I didn't completely ignore the requests for choices from my list last week. Steenbeck? There are two Talk Talk albums already on the USB memory stick I really must post to you. Shane? There will be some Joolz available via a Norfolk postie soon.

Shoey? I'd never really considered a Tindersticks comparison, and on reflection, I would say not. Mr.Staples' output has much more of it's impact via lyrical content, and that voice deliberately prominent. Chris Hooson's vocals normally seem much more incidental, weaker almost - though I don't mean that as a criticism. I get the impression that Stuart's lyrics are thought out; Chris' simply pour out, if that makes sense.

Anyway, time for a couple of domestic jobs before bed. I hope to see more from you lot tomorrow, even if it's comments of the 'Thanks, but no, thanks!' variety.

tincanman said...

Tindersticks was the first thing to come to mind on my first listen of the album, and I am just starting to get them a bit.

I'm thick, ok?

I'm not getting anywhere with Dakota Suite DsD. I'm glad to see it as our Album of the Week but see above re me and thick. It's above my level of intellect, I'm afraid. (Have had fun giving it a go though)

TatankaYotanka said...

I had a quick listen on their Myspace while I was at work and will nab the album from the Dropbox when I can wrestle our media friendly laptop off Madame Y. Back soon as ..... cheers :)

Shoegazer said...

1st listen. Not overly fond of the singing or lyrics. But some of the arrangements are stunning. Radio Song sounds like Mogwai unplugged, my favorite of all on display. See why you compared to Talk Talk, the guitar on "Jesus" v.1. sounds like a direct lift. Like the piano & cello(?) tracks with the guitar in the background better than where it's more in your face or guitar only. Research suggests that this is a relatively early compilation. Would be interested in hearing an album proper. Another worthy album of the week - good pick. Thanks

Shoegazer said...

Oh & Dakota Suite baffled i-Tunes' "genius" completely (no surprise as genius seems to suck). But Tastekid (www.tastekid.com) suggestions included: Idaho, Codeine, Mark Kozelek/Red House/Sun Kil, Jorge Palma, Low, Arvo Part & Sigur Ros.

DarceysDad said...

Hmmm. I have no Idaho or Arvo Part, and I've never heard of Jorge Palma. Thanks, Shoey.

(Sorry to hear about your car, btw. I've never had one nicked, but just having the stereo ripped out of one and all my cassettes nicked did my head in for months.)

Mnemonic said...

I remember loving Dakota Suite when you put a track on your last social compilation. I'll try to listen to the rest some time this week.

Japanther said...

Thanks for MP3-ing it for us technically defficient thickos, it is d/l-ing nicely now..looking forward to listening (it will soundtrack my journey to work tomorrow morning!)

DarceysDad said...

Erm ... about next week:

I was reading Classic Rock last night, and that magazine has given The Decemberists new one 9/10!!

Anyone got that, and anything to say on the subject??

ejaydee said...

I did get that one (I'm about to listen to yours later tonight) based on The Rake's Song, and so far it seems good, but I don't have much authority as this is my first Decemberists album.
By the way, I didn't mean "blue" as a bad thing, it just seemed like the overall mood of that particular CD you'd made.

DarceysDad said...
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DarceysDad said...

Don't get me wrong, EJD, I'd no problem with your comment, in fact it absolutely hit the nail on the head. Even Darcey has now taken to asking me (when the Walkman is playing through the car speakers):"Daddy, why do you like sad songs?" or "Daddy, why is that singer sad?"

I'm in the process of changing the dozen CDs for the travel case that lives in the car, with the specific intent of finding "happy" albums .... I'm actually finding it quite hard!!

steenbeck said...

I have now listened to most of the album in my usual semi-distracted state. I still like it a lot, but I retract my cowboy junkies/wilco comments. It does create a melancholy mood, (I just said to Malcolm "can you NOT roller skate with two glass bottles in your hands" Aren't they cute, the little ones?) I don't know what to compare it to anymore, which is usually a good sign. They seem like really good musicians. Some of the instrumental arrangements start sort of simply but become beautiful and complicated and surprising. I found that his voice appealed to me less the breathier it became. I like full-on ugly twangy voices, I think. I want to listen again, and I might be back with more comments. Thanks for sharing DsD--an excellent pick, and completely new to me.

I think Shivsidecar volunteered to introduce the new Decemberists' album to the spillish world.

saneshane said...

DsD

the decemberists 'Hazards of love' album is on spotify.. if you are near a computer.. to give it a listen through.

iTunes genius sucked so much.. it isn't on the up dates..iTunes dj has replaced it..I think.

Mnemonic said...

iTunes genius sucked so much and took so long to load that I removed it. I think iTunes DJ replaced the shuffle function

Blimpy said...

Rich, check yr email!

DarceysDad said...

WOW! Cheers, Blimpy. I was going to bed, but that email's just woken me up bigtime!

Hmmm ... what to do now ...?

Thanks for listening everyone; I'll be back with some responses tomorrow.

AliMunday said...

hmm, very melancholy - quite fitting as I'm sitting here with sinusitis, watching the rain and waiting till I can have some more paracetamol without overdosing ...

Japanther said...

right, i've had a good listen now and my first reaction is that I like it, quite a lot actually, more than I thought I was going to.

I think I like the music more than I like the singing/lyrics so I liked the instrumental tracks a lot....reminded me of something quite orchestral, maybe some of Godspeed You Black Emperor's quieter moments(??)

Nothing wrong with his voice, it evoked the requisite melancholy, but to someone coming to the band for the first time with no idea of the songwriter and his history, some of the lyrics felt a bit self-indulgent which put me off a bit.

Overall though, top stuff and completely new to me, so, job done DsD! Cheers!

ejaydee said...

SO I listened last night, which seems to be the perfect time to enjoy Dsd's music (as I said about the first social CD), and I liked it. I haven't got much to add to what's already been said in terms of positives, the melancholy suited me just fine in the midnight hour, but I would say, that it's a liiittle bit on the long side, which isn't surprising for an album from the late 90's.

Oh and by the way, it's funny that you listen to "sad" music and "sad singers", because you're not, in case anybody who hasn't yet met you thought you just hung in the corner of the room, muttering dark thoughts, putting a downer on any gathering.

DarceysDad said...

Cheers, ejay.

"Compilation album in overlong rumpus" isn't exactly a headline to stun the music world, is it?

;o)

And [DsD feigns indigation] I'll have you know that only this very morning, I had a very nice email from someone thanking me for making him laugh out loud . . .

. . . namely a friend & occasional member of Dakota Suite, who spotted the post, and asked what it was I might have said to offend Mr. Hooson. When I replied, he stopped laughing just long enough to confirm that, yes, I couldn't have got it more wrong if I'd actually TRIED to offend!

Ah well, guess I won't be getting an Easter card from Chris and Johanna then!

But we did get some thanks for the nice things we said about the music, so I thought I'd share at least that bit.

Off to DarceysGran's tomorrow, and got lots of work to get through first, but I'll try (prob late tonight) to point you each at the best next Dakota Suite album to try, given your individual comments.

DarceysDad said...

Oh, and where's ToffeeBoy?

There's even more reasons than normal why I'd appreciate his contribution to this thread.

ejaydee said...

I'll tell you what else won't stun the RR world:
"EJD fails to pay attention before he makes an embarrassing comment"

DarceysDad said...

Ed, I still maintain you can be forgiven anything you may say out of turn in a language to which you were not born.

Just don't push your luck, OK my friend?

DarceysDad said...

OK, it really is bedtime, but I did promise.

For those simply wanting more, I'd say get the first 'proper' album - Songs For A Barbed Wire Fence - which includes some scrubbed up versions of the songs you heard here.

For those who found Chris Hooson's voice a little grating, seek out Navigator's Yard, which is wholly instrumental, or, as he's undoubtedly got better over time, give him a second chance with the recent Waiting For The Dawn To Crawl Through And Take Away Your Life. If it is still available, I got my copy of Waiting... bundled with a DVD of the Dakota Suite film Wintersong. A bargain from Glitterhouse.

Those who liked the fuller orchestral sound should buy The Way I Am Sick. According to allmusic, there's a re-release of this with an extra bonus disc.

But if you just want one album, so that you can say you've got one, but you're not likely to go past that, then get This River Only Brings Poison, which is my second favourite Dakota Suite album.

Thanks for listening, everyone.

I'm off to non-internet land for a week tomorrow, so unless I can find a wi-fi spot whilst I'm away, I'll see you after Easter.

TatankaYotanka said...

It took me a while to encourage this album into my dropbox .. no idea what that was about ... everything else seems to be there pretty much instantaneously. Anyway, downloaded, burnt and played quite a few times, it has lots of elements that resonate with me. I'm interested in the question of men and melancholic music ... you might have guessed from my own choice of album of the week ;).

I remember reading somewhere about the effect that the C20th clinicalising of melancholia (the temperament) into melancholy (the illness) and depression managed to do away with a quite productive interpretation of the state as a gateway to insight and potential access to the sublime. From my own experience that holds true and I suspect it is why 'doomy/gloomy' music is predominantly a male preserve: it physically and psychically creates a period of time in which we can stay with emotion outside the culturally proscribed comfort zone. Like any time spent at the edge, you can bring something back with you or fall off the cliff ;).

I don't think it's worth me listing the stuff that I own which came to mind whilst listening to this ... but I will say that in the context of Robert Wyatt as an acclaimed cult artist, Chris' voice is exactly what's needed with this music. Totally new to me, I'm going to listen more. Thanks DSD.

TatankaYotanka said...
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nilpferd said...

A bit late, but I did listen last week on the train, so thought I'd post.. like Japanther, I was most impressed with the multi-instrumentalism, the tracks with harp, piano or accordian had a nice sound, although I would have wanted a bit more harmonic development. I didn't really find the songs all that melancholy- though I suppose that what I find melancholy would probably drive most of you to despair. The vocals just went right past me, neither the delivery nor the text content really left much of an impression. I'd like to hear them develop the instrumental side more, as that was for me by far the most interesting aspect of the album, and perhaps try to work the vocals in more organically with the other instruments.
I thought you presented the band well, DD, as with Saneshane's post I was definitely tempted to give it a listen, and although it wasn't really a revelation for me, I do have music which does the same thing for me that Dakota Suite does for you.

DarceysDad said...

Thanks, nilpferd.

For you, Shoey and Japanther in particular, I'd say your next step with Dakota Suite should definitely be The Way I Am Sick. Doubly so if you can find this double disc version that allmusic mention.

As the p/t Dakota Suite drummer who emailed me said, they're never going to be huge ... it's just nice to know that someone somewhere "gets" it.

Anonymous said...

“Melancholy in men seems to have the same tone everywhere in the world. It's partly a neurosis which comes from somehow knowing that you'll never fathom the levers that run your life. ”

DsD said...

Now THAT makes sense!