eMEGO 136 / Mark Van Hoen
The Revenant Diary
- 1. Look Into My Eyes (4:22)
- 2. Garabndl x (3:56)
- 3. Don't Look Back (4:16)
- 4. I Remember (5:50)
- 5. No Distance (Except the one between you and me) (3:37)
- 6. 37/3d (6:20)
- 7. Where Were You (4:40)
- 8. Why Hide From Me (2:49)
- 9. Unknown Host (4:16)
- 10. Laughing Stars At Night (4:36)
- 11. Holy Me (9:36)
All titles composed by Mark Van Hoen
Recorded in Brooklyn & Woodstock NY USA 2011
All instruments & processing by Mark Van Hoen with additional vocals by Georgia Belmont
Cover art by Stephen O\' Malley
â€œDonâ€™t look backâ€, repeats one of several voices within Mark van Hoenâ€™s The Revenant Diary, his fifth solo album and first release on Editions Mego. Surrounded by weighted beats, analogue synthesizer drones and granular dirt, the unidentified, siren-like female voiceâ€™s advice is as much seduction as warning. Tellingly so, for as well as being both Van Hoenâ€™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.
Â 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 â€“ a founding member of Seefeel, who also worked as Locust and in Seefeel offshoot Scala and has collaborated with Slowdive, Robert Fripp, Edison Woods & Esben and the Witch amongst others â€“ happened upon a track he had recorded in 1982. Attracted by its simplicity, he was inspired to record the basis ofÂ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ provided an evocative inspiration.
Â The Revenant Diary pivots on this combination of complex reflection and simplified technology. A determinedly analogue affair, it brims over with Van Hoenâ€™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 â€œHoly Meâ€, one of Van Hoenâ€™s most complex compositions, in which non-verbal sounds rub delicately against each other in an otherworldly choral composition.
Â Less song-based than his last solo work, the well-received Where Is The Truth [City Centre Offices, 2010], its palette and structure are more descendants of the 1995 album Truth Is Born Of Arguments, which utilised a similar combination of decayed atmosphere against a granular / glitch rhythmic structure. Tracks like â€œLaughing Stars At Nightâ€ and â€œUnknown Hostâ€ exude a powerful emotional undertow, as alluringly woozy as they are intensely contemplative. But this is no exercise in Instagram-style disposable nostalgia. Van Hoenâ€™s adroit juxtapositions of gauzy textures evoke the blurred luminescence of 16mm film and the rich, colour-saturated hues of rediscovered Polaroid photos, as the cover artwork, designed by Sunn O)))â€™s Stephen Oâ€™Malley, acknowledges. The Revenant Diary expertly renders displaced memory daze in lushly melodic, gently delirious electronic sound.