dakota suite – this river only brings poison (20th anniversary edition) | karaoke kalk 130
this river only brings poison
Karaoke Kalk 130
*shipping out on or around September 29, 2023
- Edition Of 300
- 2 x Vinyl LP
- 140g Black Vinyl
- Spined Sleeve 5mm, b/w
- Printed Innersleeve
**All orders include an instant download of the album
»This River Only Brings Poison« was released in 2002 as the sixth full-length album of Chris Hooson’s Dakota Suite project. This first-ever vinyl edition of the record includes four bonus pieces and makes it possible for fans to re-evaluate one of the most crucial Dakota Suite albums in the project’s vast discography while also providing new listeners with an entry point into its intricate musical cosmos. With contributions by artists as diverse as steel guitarist Bruce Kaphan and drummer Tim Mooney from American Music Club, Derald Daugherty, and Laura and Chris Donohue as well as long-time collaborators such as David Buxton, Colin Dunkley or Ed Collins, »This River Only Brings Poison« turned out as a sonically rich and stylistically versatile as it is emotionally multi-layered.
»Writing music for me has always been a cathartic exercise,« explains Hooson. While the instrumental pieces generally serve to express a raw sense of his internal struggles, his vocal-led songs communicate them more directly. »Those are the words I cannot say openly. It’s not that I cannot voice them in a conversation, it’s just that they only seem half-formed and not ›true‹ unless they are located within a song,« he says. What makes Dakota Suite unique is that throughout the project’s history, the music and lyrics have always had a single addressee: Hooson’s wife Johanna, whose photographs were used for the album artwork and who is featured on clarinet on »sand fools the shoreline.«
»The title of the record was something that I had said when Johanna and I first met to make her see that the journey she was considering taking would be full of love, but also come at a cost,« explains Hooson. »The songs were written at a time when I was really struggling to think I could be the person that she deserved.« In the end however, »This River Only Brings Poison« marked a turning point in Hooson’s oeuvre after highly productive time with Dakota Suite: it would take another five years until he returned with a new album. »The reason for that was that I needed to accept that she had made her choice to be with me and that was a big thing for me to get my head around,« he says.
Hooson’s highly personal approach to writing songs also has an impact on the ways in which he works with his collaborators when recording them. »The people with whom I play really need to understand how I perceive the world to be able to play what I need,« he says. »My instructions would always be things like, ›This is what the song means to me, this is what I am trying to communicate to Johanna when she hears it, so your cello, for example, needs to sound like you have noticed that the cloud is covering the sun, and the weight of the air on your skin is heavier and it has unsettled you.‹«
For this particular record, he reached out to Mooney and Kaphan as an admirer of their group American Music Club. Expecting to be rejected, he instead found himself on a flight to San Francisco together with multi-instrumentalist Buxton shortly thereafter, about to make what he today calls one of his most cherished recording experiences. After the four musicians finished the basic tracks, overdubs were added in Hooson and Buxton’s respective houses as well as Daugherty’s home studio while Hooson was visiting his old friend in Nashville.
Hooson emphasises that revisiting his older releases can be complicated. »I feel intense feelings, as every record is a diary of who I was in that period and what I was feeling. That is why having to play the songs live is always like having PTSD: I need to re-experience the event that caused me to write the song, and I do not enjoy that.« He remains, however, proud of »This River Only Brings Poison,« pointing especially to the opener »the lepers companion« as what might perhaps be his favourite song of his. »But overall I just hope that Johanna feels it spoke to her,« he says, adding that the two do not discuss his records. »For me it’s enough that she is listening to the things I mean to communicate to her.«