William Hooker with Eyvind Kang and Bill Horist - The Seasons Fire (CD Important Records)
As an artist and poet, Hooker throws colourful crystals into an increasingly dark world. As a drummer, he's a force of Nature itself. Born of the soil, nurtured by light and sound, Hooker's playing expressive style of playing veers from the tempered to the exhilarating. Over the years his collaborators have had to the push themselves hard to keep up with him. A personal favourite would be David S. Ware, but I've always been disappointed by the way no-one has matched him and pushed him.
Drawn from two live shows apparently recorded on the same day, 20th October 2002, one at the Rainbow Room in Seattle, the other at Sunset Tavern in Seattle, Hooker worked on both with electric violinist Eyvind Kang and electric guitarist Bill Horist. The post-Sonic Youth style guitar playing sounds badly dated, it's lacking in something. Infact it's lacking in too much. Maybe all that distorted guitars and long-note thing is too easy, too post-rock, too familiar to be in-keeping with what Hooker is doing? It detracts from Hooker's terrific combination of working and reworking; playfulness and seriousness. The earthiness of a guitar amp's valves burning and growling is a quiet pleasure but sometimes it's simply not enough.
Far more enjoyable is hearing Hooker and Kang play off each other, particularly on 'Seasons II', an understated, detailed, moving section where at one point Hooker's bass drum sounds like the soft pounding of a heartbeat. From there it grows, tugged along by the violin to slipping and sliding heights of the violin.
They go out on a high with the grand finale, 'Fate', led by Kang's evocative melodic playing (wah-wahed, I tell you!) as Hooker tumbles and pushes his way up, up and away. What a sight it must have been to witness it live.
It's always a pleasure to hear William Hooker play, but I just wish there was someone out there who could not just keep up with him but take him on and push him further still. HM