Mark Van Hoen: The Revenant Diary (Editions Mego)
Mark Van Hoen, known for his work as Locust as well as early collaborations with Seefeel and more, returns under his proper name, this time on Austrian label Mego. I’d say the sound of The Revenant Diary meets somewhere in the middle of Van Hoen’s more accessible previous repertoire and the stranger fringe world of typical Mego, with an often uneasy sound that still feels somehow familiar and listenable. Many of the tracks are characterized by disembodied voices and manipulated, looping samples, rarely (if ever) his own voice. At times he throws down canned drum loops like the plodding lo-fi beat of “I Remember” or the choppy chug of “Look Into My Eyes,” but these are often complemented by a dense swirl of sound that’s as haunting as it is beguiling. That he opted to create the entire album on four-track, eschewing the conveniences of software altogether, is illuminating; there is a vague nostalgia in the crudeness of the sound at times, but one would be careful to heed the vocal loop of the third track: “Don’t Look Back.” It’s as urgent as it is infectious, an oddly evasive call to action. This is music that looks boldly forward (or perhaps even sideways) rather than merely backward. It’s a compelling listen from start to finish, ending with a layered timestretched manipulated a capella epilogue, “Holy Me.” It’s odd to me that Mr. Van Hoen hasn’t gotten the same hype that an act like Oneohtrix Point Never has gotten in the last couple of years, as he’s exploring territory that is not so far off and has been doing so for a much longer period of time. To me, The Revenant Diary is by far his best yet. Truly excellent stuff.