steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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Mark Van Hoen

"Where is the Truth" LP/CD

City Centre Offices

Genre: bucolic electronic midnights

New York, NY

May 2010

Mark Van Hoen has ties to various arenas of electronic music, his most notable moniker being Locust, under which he's recorded both Warp-style techno and atmospheric electronic work. He has also served as a producer for several dreamy pop bands in his day, and was an original member of Seefeel in its earliest incarnations.

On Where is the Truth, the listener is treated to a curiously varied record, no doubt a direct result of Van Hoen's eclectic background. In fact, this album sees his manifold influences and genres converge upon one another, resulting in an expertly-produced, if occasionally disjointed, disc. The album's most alluring moments are those brilliant collisions between electronic music and pop, during which Mark exhibits a Caribou-esque affinity for dreamy, melodic brilliance. The ravishing title track is a particularly delicious example; it weds a mesmerizing vocal part to glittering synths, post-rock guitar chime, and techno beats in four minutes of unequivocal bliss. Almost as superb is the haunting "Your Voice," which plants heartfelt singing amid an apocalyptic IDM base. Several other tracks carve from the same niche, to predominately successful ends ("Render the Voice," "I Need Silence"), including, notably, an homage to the pensive trip-hop of Massive Attack and Gus Gus on very noir "She's Selda."

Interestingly, when Van Hoen sheds the vocals, the songs sometimes sink. For example, although lengthy opener "Put My Trust In You" brandishes a convincingly pensive demeanour, it's an otherwise bland track -- it sounds more like the score to a portentous film scene than a standalone composition. Elsewhere, multilayered "Photophone Call" is no more than a fragment, lacking a firm sense of direction; and while the same could be said of ambient "Beautiful," it's intergalactically hazy atmosphere overcomes any shortcomings in purpose.

Yet the good news is that Where is the Truth is, for the most part, a fundamentally splendid listen. Van Hoen's extensive experience shines through on these eleven moonlit compositions, the hazy, drifting production revealing a stellar effortlessness that renders the songs casually great. Despite its occasional missteps, Where is the Truth warrants your open ears.

mark van hoen's myspace

"Where is the Truth" live:

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2010]