Mark Van Hoen The Warmth Inside You Review

Album. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Complicated, unstable pieces that sound like music on the brink between sleeping and...

Marcus Scott 2004

Mark Van Hoen has been making electronic music for a long time now. He was an early producer of post rock pioneers Seefeel, a contemporary of Aphex Twin on the (then very important) R and S label as Locust, but he's never quite got the reputation he deserves for his music.

Maybe this is because he hasn't followed the trajectory path of many of the artists who made it big in the days when I.D.M was the buzzword. He committed the cardinal sin early on of mixing electronics and vocals on his projects as Locust, and throughout his career he's pretty much stuck to using analogue equipment rather than the latest plug-ins, just using the digital gear to edit his music.

Listening to what he's done over the past 12 years or so over various labels from R and S to 4AD,it's clear that it's time Van Hoen's music was up for critical reappraisal. Just one example; in a brief listen one can hear the influence on Boards of Canada's damaged melodies and dense claustrophobia, more so even than usual suspects like the Aphex Twin.

Van Hoen's latest album The Warmth Inside You is completely instrumental. Following the same basictemplate he has always kept to, he builds complicated, unstable pieces. It'smusic on the brink between sleeping and waking states; nocturnal trance that draws you in. Maybe this is music for lovers; I'm not sure, the titles of the tracks seem to suggest so. The cover painting of a man and woman together in bed (but in a strange wonderland) suggest a surreal erotica; the music suggests a dangerous intimacy, all is not what it seems.

The music on this record seems to do nothing very much. Van Hoen plays on rich textures, developing the music not by building up, but by morphing slightly, deepening in atmosphere, unsettling the listener.

The sublime "Questioning the Start"is built round agently undulating chime,featuring amelody that reminds me of Augustus Pablo's melodica playing, pulsing in front off all kinds of dense noise and hidden vocal samples.

"The Help Without You" is allgamelan tones and slow radiophonic workshop melodies, dignified but exhausted. Finishing with "Three People's Presence", the detuned nature of the melody almost makes you feel sick: it's wrong, it's strange, but it sounds so rich.

This album is, however, more than just a mere collection of tracks; it seems to have a plan; taking on the cold nature of a virus, pulling you under to pull you apart, subsuming the area of the brain that finds everything fascinating, teetering on the edge of disgust and adoration.

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