Release Date: Jan 17, 2012
Record label: Editions Mego
Mark Van Hoen's 2012 release finds the musician continuing in a new phase of activity following his Brooklyn move four years previously, showing that his ear for combining disparate elements into a distinct whole remains not only intact but perhaps newly thriving. With the at once easygoing and still threatening stomp of "Look into My Eyes" as an opener, vocal swirls both enticing and unearthly as precise bass and fuzzy ambient sound carve out the songs' corners, The Revenant Diary, as implicitly indicated by its title, thrives on its sense of so much of the sonic advances of past decades reenergized once more. It can be the throb and echo of dub, the ease of ambient music in its many forms, the romanticist chill of '90s avant-garde techno, an almost classical sense of tension and release -- the twisted string sounds of "Garabndl X" being a prime example -- but the end result lies not only in the combination but how carefully Van Hoen causes individual elements to almost exalt everything else in the mix.
Sometimes, at night, I sense something, and then I don’t. I don’t know what exists in the dark, although I’m sure something does. A revenant, undoubtedly. A returner from the dark: just as Proust’s narrator finds his childhood through a madeleine dipped in tea or as Sebald’s Austerlitz finds his orphanhood in an abandoned room in an English railway station, a life already lived comes back unexpectedly.
Former Seefeel member Mark Van Hoen has been releasing solo material under a variety of aliases since the early '90s, but his career apparently began a decade before that. The Revenant Diary is inspired by his rediscovery of recordings he made in 1982 on very rudimentary equipment, and its eleven tracks are meant to pay tribute to the crude, honest quality of that material.Sure enough, Van Hoen's productions are caked in earthy grit, which gives the distinct feeling that they're in some way relics. In spite of this, there's an underlying sense that the artist's past anxieties have not yet been totally quelled; there's a resigned urgency throughout, as if his need to move forward is at odds with the crippling weight of the past.
A sweet fifth solo set on which the Seefeel founder’s past collides with his present. Mike Diver 2012 Seefeel founder Mark Van Hoen has long been established as a talent operating in the margins of mainstream electronic music. His material is far from confrontational in its design, and requires little previous experience of comparable fare to become comfortable with.