1 Put My Trust In You
2 Where Is The Truth
4 She's Selda
6 Your Voice
7 I Need Silence
8 Render the voice
10 Photophone call
11 Soyuz A
All titles written by Mark Van Hoen (Copyright Control), Except 'I Need Silence' written by Mark Van Hoen & Vinny Miller
Funnily enough, the phrase that came to mind as I listened to 'Where Is The Truth' was Hypnagogic pop. Although very different from the artists to which David Keenan has applied the term, Mark Van Hoen — perhaps best known for his 1990s electronic work as Locust — seems to similarly operate in a twilight realm between wakefulness and sleep, at the point where dream topologies soften the definite angles of the everyday, and language melts into semi-coherent mumbling and murmuring. All of which means that the theme upon which the album was apparently based — the traumatic feelings provoked in Van Hoen by his recent discovery that he was adopted — is treated in a very opaque way. The shadow of 1970s Eno can often be detected here, especially on the opening track, "Put My Trust In You", which with its tolling electric piano chords, recalls the sombre expansiveness of the second side of Bowie's Low. Elsewhere, it is not so much that the tracks resemble music that Eno actually made as that they achieve his ambition to produce a vague music. Van Hoen dissolves the solidity of song, replacing attack and drive with hesitation, suspension and reverberation. "Yourself" decorates its languid electronic surfaces with guitar parts, fragile as smoke rings, that could have been played by Vini Reilly. Voices are slurred, distorted or manipulated, reduced to imprecise yearnings. Percussion is frequently allowed to overwhelm the vocals: "Your Voice" is like a Junior Boys ballad buried under a battery of distorted drum machine snares. Even though Where Is The Truth inspires a rich web of associations, it rarely feels like pastiche, and never like an eclectic melange. Sometimes the associations are unexpected — at points during "Beautiful" and "Photophone Call" I was improbably reminded of the OMD of Architecture And Morality, but stripped of the overwrought pomposity that was OMD's fatal vice. In the end, Where Is The Truth is a kind of post-rock redreaming of electronica, in which the half-forgotten and the misremembered combine into vague compounds so gaseous that if feels as if they could dissipate at any moment.
Here is a transalation of the Playground review from Spanish (original here )
Review Mark Van Hoen “Where is The Truth”
What makes Mark Van Hoen different from his contemporaries –those little heroes who used to fill the electronic music’s margins in the 90’s– is the fact of having been able to diversify his style over the years, elaborating an increasingly complex and adult music (and please do not take adult negatively), far from fashions and trends in order to embrace more classic ideals, nevertheless leaving a kind of experimental sediment to some extent. He is one of those guys who polishes his own style in an impeccable manner, getting rid of everything that bothers him, adding unexpected ingredients to leave a better taste.
Possibly, this ability to evolve is down to his condition of outsider: his solo project, Locust, had always more critical acclaim than commercial success. Something similar happened to Scala, the band formed by three of the Seefeel’s members when his leader, Mark Clifford, decided to do his own thing.
This lack of notoriety has allowed Van Hoen to enjoy a certain degree of tranquility when planning his next steps, always confident of having a decent place to release his music: Apollo, R&S, Too Pure or Touch (a very impressive C.V.). In the meantime, he could also count on a bunch of good friends, always happy to give him with the production of their albums: Mojave 3, Edison Woods or Sing-Sing, among others.
Those record labels who used to release his albums for the sake of giving the pleasure themselves, even knowing they weren’t going to make a huge profit from it, are not able today to take the risk, which is a shame, as “Where is The Truth” is possibly the best ever of Van Hoen’s recording. We find an album of an intensive personal nature –the title and lyrics refer to the traumatic and recent discovery of him being adopted– and whose common thread is ambient of classic air. So classic, in fact, that the first influence on the top of my mind is the Brian Eno of “Before and after science”: the one of liquid atmospheres and deconstructed songs, the one who didn’t give up on pop neither on neoclassic arrangements, though never succumbing to conventions.
As the old Eno, Van Hoen takes out from the closet his old analogue synthesizers, the tape machines and the echo chambers. He also asks his friend Neil Halstead for some electric guitar lines to drawn them afterwards in a sea of effects. He also recruits a handful of angelical-voice singers –such as Vinny Miller– and with all these items together form his pieces, made of liquid and gas texture, songs full of melancholia that seem to loose themselves within the time flux. They float on their very own space.
There are of course some winks to his own story: “Your Voice” and its trip-hop rhythm links with the best moments of Locust, while “I need silence” reminds us the softest tracks of Scala. In addition, many of the arrangements and melodies denote a return to a happy childhood.
These details help us to define the personality of “Where is the truth”, an album that, as it happens to all the best ones, grows more and more with any listening, at the same time as all its secrets hidden inside (many and valuable) are being unveiled to the captivated listener. A marvel.