[sic] Magazine

Mark Van Hoen – Where is the Truth

I have The Wire magazine to thank for introducing me to this stunning new album by Mark Van Hoen . However, in typical Wire style, their review was peppered with pretentious phrases such as ‘hypnagogic pop’, their latest buzz genre. As far as I can fathom, hypnagogic pop takes the day-glo sounds of the ’80s and sends them to sleep amid a blanket of lo-fi fuzz and looping, then stirs in quasi-mystical mythologising. There’s definitely a hazy, beguiling ambience to Mark Van Hoen’s latest, but it’s way, way more than that. Where is the Truth pisses on lazy-sounding releases by many artists dubbed hypnagogic pop by virtue of its seamless construction and emotional resonance.

When you trace his history as a musician and producer, Van Hoen has quite a lineage, extending right back to being a one-time member of Seefeel . Since then he’s made electronica under the Locust moniker and produced bands like Sing-Sing and Mojave 3 . Mojave 3’s Neil Halstead (ex Slowdive ) contributes some wonderfully understated guitar playing to some of the tracks here. Synths, live and electronic drums, fuzzy bass, guitars and heavily effected vocals are woven amid shortwave radio interference, loops and atmospheres to create a remarkably dense sound, yet one that breathes and glows.

Apparently while working on Where is the Truth, Van Hoen found out he was adopted. While this revelation isn’t essential to digesting this release, it only adds another layer of melancholy and ambiguity to an album that can sound simultaneously lost in confusion and euphorically free. The over-riding feel of these songs is akin to the radiant stormclouds of Fennesz or Tim Hecker , yet tuned to dream-pop frequencies so you can hear the songs emerge from the roar of static.

These sounds throb with a milky ambience, blurred at the edges. Songs blend into one another, creating a continuous 45-minute suite of exceptional quality. Indeed, it’s difficult to single out particular songs when each one is so integral to the whole. All I know is that whenever I reach the shimmering synth arpeggios of closing track ‘Soyuz A’, there’s literally no choice but to return to the gauzy Talk Talk -esque atmospheres of elegiac opener ‘Put My Trust In You’. On the first day I heard this, I must have played it straight through six times in a row. I can’t think of many releases in recent memory that have had such an effect on me.

Where is the Truth comes highly recommended to anyone interested in beautiful, emotive music that literally blurs the boundaries between genres. Phenomenal.