Boomkat Product Review:
Weightless, blissful and filled with holographic references to formative influences like Brian Eno and Cluster, Mark Van Hoen's first solo full-length in six years is a voyage through his vast memory banks that's unabashedly brightly hued.
Van Hoen's been at this for a while - his first few albums as Locust, released on the Apollo label, are still heralded as classics, and since then he's released countless more pillowy full-lengths under his own name, working with Touch, Editions Mego and City Centre Offices. His music's always straddled the ambient genre, but simultaneously grazes the edges of dream pop, early IDM and shoegaze, and 'Plan For A Miracle', while it references day zero ambient set-texts like Eno's 'Music For Films', reaches out far further. It's an eclectic collection that Van Hoen says was written in various different places, with very different instruments; some of the tracks were recorded in the desert with a 4-track tape deck and a modular rig, some in his studio with his arsenal of synths, drum machines and FX boxes, and some were done completely on his laptop with software instruments.
Opening track 'Climates' is sparse and minimal, with just a sine wave tapping out a gentle melody over a constant, shruti box style drone, but 'This is for Them' dissolves into different territory, layering cascading melodies over broken, Artificial Intelligence-era squelches. The elegiac 'Mrs Who' is a skeletal moment of almost instrumental levity, sporting a wistful zither-like lead that hisses and groans over silt smeared pads, and 'I Won't Give Up' sounds something like Seefeel reworked by Casino vs Japan, and harks back to some of Van Hoen's most memorable early moments, echoing cryptic vocal loops over a charmingly rickety, distorted pulse. These mellifluous rhythmic tracks, while nostalgic, show that Van Hoen's most comfortable in the space between pop and experimental soundscapes; even when he's working with the sparsest palette, it's the earworm hooks that draw you into his world.