• Thinking about Mr. Hollis in a sentimental mood

    It happened five years ago today.

    The guy from „Zen Sounds“ is strolling through Mark Hollis‘ life, and time‘s rush (and the coffee I am drinking some miles before Bremen) is now filled with sugar and sadness. By chance, I made one of the two last interviews he ever did, in 1998, in Hamburg, before the release of „Mark Hollis“. And I was meeting him before In 1991 or 1990. In that week when the huge cover of Talk Talk‘s „Laughing Stock“ circled on the roof of Polydor Records‘ skyscraper, I sat in his little appartment near „Angel Station“, with Markus Müller (who is now the CEO of the Monschau Jazz Festival, remember his FMP book, or the ECM exhibition in München…), and we listened to his stories, for example about Mark’s neverending love for that first Duke Ellington piece of his only album with John Coltrane… „listen, these first moments of Elvin Jones there“, and whenever I come across the name of that Underground station, it hurts. „Angel Station“. For fuck’s sake. When meeting him again in the big Hamburg hotel, there was (really strange, and unexpected) this joy, unfiltered, similar to seeing an old friend again, a big smile on his side, on my side then, too. In those two hours, while drinking tea, there was a very kind, heartfelt connection. If I now think back to that scene, after all those years, it brings a tear to my eyes. I’m NOT „romanticizing“ this. All these special moments in life, you don’t return to them necessarily in your last moments, on the deathbed, you can bring them up – en passant, and they can serve. Everything wounded will flow. Little helpers on the way. The elevation of a (sudden) melancholic vibe. Mark Hollis never released any more offical recordings after his solo work. In 2001, he produced two songs for jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek’s daughter Anja on her album Smiling & Waving. And, there I was, sitting in Anja‘s living room in Notting Hill – on her wall the magnified cover of Brian Eno‘s „On Land“, Anja talking about her album, and about the last appearance of Mr. Hollis in a record studio. Circles closing. We should have been writing oldfashioned letters. The following lines now from Stephan Kunze, the man behind „Zen Sounds“:

    Researching his biography, “Mark Hollis: A Perfect Silence”, music journalist Ben Wardle found out that the introverted songwriter spent the last 20 years of his life mainly playing golf, riding motorcycles and collecting rare instruments. When his kids had grown up, he moved back to the countryside with his wife, this time to Sussex. He died from cancer on February 25, 2019, aged 64.