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VAN HOEN, MARK - The Revenant Diary

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Editions Mego emego 136
Release Year: 2012
Note: fifth solo-album by this legendary figure of British "avantgardish" spacious Pop music (founding member of SEEFEEL, ex LOCUST, SCALA); very trancy, dreamy, surprising arrangements & sounds.... cover-artwork by STEPHEN O'MALLEY
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €14.00

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" "Don't look back," repeats one of several voices within Mark Van Hoen's The Revenant Diary, his fifth solo album and first release on Editions Mego. Surrounded by weighted beats, analog synthesizer drones and granular dirt, the unidentified, siren-like female voice's advice is as much seduction as warning. Tellingly so, for as well as being both Van Hoen's most ambitious and his most accessible work, The Revenant Diary is an eloquent meditation on the allures and dangers of memory, regret and nostalgia. The album's foundation was shaped by a memory and a chance encounter. While remastering some of his early '90s releases and Peel Session tracks, Van Hoen -- a founding member of Seefeel, who also worked as Locust and in Seefeel offshoot Scala and has collaborated with Slowdive, Robert Fripp, Edison Woods and Esben And The Witch, amongst others -- happened upon a track he had recorded in 1982. Attracted by its simplicity, he was inspired to record the basis of The Revenant Diary on 4-track tape, using a minimal set-up, reminiscent of his first early '80s musical adventures as a young teenager. The recollection of one of these -- a 13 year-old Van Hoen's experiment in reel-to-reel tape recording of an ineffectual pop song playing on the radio, which spuriously transformed it into a spooky amalgam of backwards church organ and unintelligible voices -- provided an evocative inspiration. The Revenant Diary pivots on this combination of complex reflection and simplified technology. A determinedly analog affair, it brims over with Van Hoen's signature sounds: immersively-decayed drones, almost broken ambient surfaces and lulling rhythms, with granular crackle providing spectral grit. Fragments of female vocals pepper the album, and notably dominate the 10-minute epic "Holy Me," one of Van Hoen's most complex compositions, in which non-verbal sounds rub delicately against each other in an otherworldly choral composition. Less song-based than his last solo work, the well-received Where Is The Truth (CCO 046CD/LP), its palette and structure are more descendants of the 1995 album Truth Is Born Of Arguments, which utilized a similar combination of decayed atmosphere against a granular/glitch rhythmic structure. Tracks like "Laughing Stars At Night" and "Unknown Host" exude a powerful emotional undertow, as alluringly woozy as they are intensely contemplative. But this is no exercise in Instagram-style disposable nostalgia. Van Hoen's adroit juxtapositions of gauzy textures evoke the blurred luminescence of 16mm film and the rich, color-saturated hues of rediscovered Polaroid photos, as the cover artwork, designed by Stephen O'Malley, acknowledges. The Revenant Diary expertly renders displaced memory daze in lushly melodic, gently delirious electronic sound. All titles composed by Mark Van Hoen. Recorded in Brooklyn & Woodstock, NY, 2011. All instruments & processing by Mark Van Hoen with additional vocals by Georgia Belmont." [label info]


"Over the years I didn't keep up with Mark van Hoen's solo work. I remember Aurobindo to be a nice work but haven't heard that in a long time, and also 'The Last Flowers From The Darkness' has faded from my memory, but then no less than fifteen years have passed. Van Hoen, once a member of of Seefeel, Scala and collaborator with Slowdive, discovered some old tracks which brought him in the a teenage mood again: why not use that old four track tape machine again with a minimal set up? When hearing this, I reminded of his older works again. Van Hoen plays, at least for me, pop like music, with rhythm, broken down guitar sounds, samples and occasionally a female voice dropping into the music. Grainy, down-sampled voices going back to the 2-bit sampling mood add a certain raw texture to the album. Hazy stuff, a bit blurry. Its a clash of the modern versus the old, new and ancient technology meet up in a very nice way. A well entertaining record, filled with melancholy, ambience, choir
like sounds and glitched up rhythms. I am told this is all a bit more abstract than his previous work, but I think this is some very nice alternative popmusic. Certainly the kind of popmusic I like." [FdW/Vital Weekly]

"The Revenant Diary (eMEGO 136) bringt ein Wiederhören mit MARK VAN HOEN, den ich seit den Tagen mit Seefeel und Scala oder als Locust lange nicht mehr auf dem Radar hatte. Maßgebend für die 11 neuen Tracks war, so heißt es hier,
die Erinnerung an sein jüngeres Selbst als tonbandelnder Teenager Anfang der 80er. 'Don't Look Back' und 'I Remember' halten das Motiv der Rückkehr fest, das ihn dazu bewegte, sich diesmal doch wieder althergebrachter technischer
Mittel zu bedienen. Entscheidender ist jedoch das emotionale Moment, ein Schwanken zwischen Nostalgie und Trauer. Da herrschen anziehende und abstoßende Kräfte, die auch in 'Why Hide From Me' und 'No Distance (Except the
one between you and me)' reflektiert werden. Downtempo-Triphopbeats transportieren orchestrale Samples und eine verwehte Frauenstimme (die vokalisierende Georgia Belmont). Orchestral? Vielleicht sind es schimmernde Gitarren, Klanggewölk aus Streichern? Van Hoen inszeniert da eine mehrspurige Unschärfe aus flackernden, kaskadierenden Klangfetzen. Auch Belmonts Gesang
wird dabei zu einem phantastischen Folklorechor. 'Ambient' ist wohl auch ein irreführendes Wort, Van Hoen macht phantastische Musik, durchsetzt mit tierischen Lauten ('Garabndl x'). Das poppige 'Don't Look Back' ist insofern eine schwache Nummer. 'I Remember' hat danach mit seinem verschleppten Beat einen Steampunk-Touch, der Gesang ist nur ein Schatten seiner selbst. 'No Distance' tickert wie ein elektronisches Spinett, über Synthienebelstreifen schimmert ein Knabensopran auf ü. Wieder mädchenhaft, schliert die zerhackte Stimme über das motorische Tuckern und Synthiegeflöte von '37/3d'. Die 80er und 90er im Reißwolf der Erinnerung? "Wo warst Du?" lautet die wehmütige Frage, die Van Hoen aber über krumme Beats stolpern lässt. 'Unknown Host' überbrückt als halbe Samba die Zeit bis zu 'Laughing Stars At Night' mit seinem Baritongitarrenloop über Breakbeats und Lyrics, die hier mehr sind als nur eine Catchphrase. 'Holy Me' multipliziert Belmont für ein verzerrtes Replikantenmadrigal a capella in der Kirche der verlorenen Zeit. Da darf man dann schon mal Einkehr halten." [Bad Alchemy]