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- The Revenant Diary by Mark Van Hoen
9/10 Brian Staff review, 12 January 2012
Bloody hell, here's that man, back once again! Former Seefeel collaborator and legendary ambient dubster Van Hoen has been lounging on the periphery of electronica for yonks now. I still cane his 'Warmth Inside You' opus on a regular basis, one of the best soundtracks for the ZZZ generation you'll ever discover. What's this new baby like? Well the opener is classic mid-'90s style ambient techno with a cool dubby groove that bears all the hallmarks of his best outings. It ain't particularly futuristic but it sure is a top ranking Van Hoen outing. After that 'Garabandl x' marries shimmering elegiac synth to stumbling glitch and in Mark chucks some amazing trippy electronic architecture to create something thoroughly startling and original. Subsequent tracks further update that spiritual old style ambient dub sound with house-esque vocal loops, stately gliding synth lines and mid-tempo beats. On other tracks you find low-end zig-zags and pulses dancing around morphing grainy textures, trippy techno judders and the glistening twitters of the smartest artificial intelligence! It's the considered use of rich bass that marks this as his territory most clearly. Managing to fuse retro styles with contemporary production is probably the only realistic way forward as there's something to offer all generations of dance music lover. I find a lot of modern electronica is lacking in soul and vibrancy due to a propensity for technological over-indulgence, bewildering banks of irritatingly day-glo synths and smart-arsed beat mangling. I don't want to hear three tunes at once, I'm not that good a multi-tasker. See Van Hoen never forgets that for a truly rewarding trip you need a strong rhythm and a sublime beat. Nothing rushed or over-saturated here. 'The Revenant Diary' is rammed full of real feeling and a laid-back dynamism so it totally gets my money thrown at it. The young pretenders to his untroubled throne can go and throw themselves in a lake for all I care, this is quite possibly the finest album I've heard from him, a real nice surprise for someone that's been in the game 20 odd years. I think this may well be AOTW for Phil and I at least!
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