Mark Van Hoen

Where Is the Truth

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Brian Eno once proclaimed that My Bloody Valentine's sound "set a new standard for pop" because of its vagueness, rejecting conventional sonic structures in favor of amorphousness and fluidity. Something of this vagueness underlies Mark Van Hoen's deeply evocative, melodic electronica, which likewise occupies a liminal space where flux and otherness supplant rigidly defined forms. The album's title suggests absence, or at least a sense of things not being completely present, as the music often works on the margins of the listener's consciousness: some sounds stop short of fully declaring themselves while others surrender their discrete identities, ebbing and flowing into one another or in and out of the musical frame. A blurring of boundaries permeates this lush, hypnotic recording. In the spirit of Eno's Another Green World, Van Hoen seamlessly fuses song-based and ambient sensibilities. Beyond ubiquitous synth drones and washes, this process hinges on a transformation of organic sounds: melodica and piano, for instance, attain a liquid quality ("Yourself"), glockenspiel notes reverberate ("Your Voice"), and guest Neil Halstead's guitar expands into its own ethereal space. Also crucial is Van Hoen's exploration of the voice's textural possibilities. Spoken fragments from radio transmissions are sampled as melodic and rhythmic ingredients, sometimes functioning almost subliminally ("Render the Voice"). Similarly, whether it's Van Hoen singing or the female vocals on "She's Selda," subtle processing de-emphasizes the words as vehicles of meaning, instead accentuating their melodic dimension and the emotions they convey. The material's emotive power is also enhanced by a mix of analog and digital technologies: for example, a vintage Orchestron ("Put My Trust in You") and Mellotron ("Soyuz A") infuse the proceedings with warm, melancholy nostalgia. Where Is the Truth comes six years after Van Hoen's last album. That's a long time in music, but the extraordinary wealth of ideas and craft he brings to his work gives it timeless appeal.

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