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
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.