Mark Van Hoen, veteran of the electronic music scene as a visit to his web site will attest, has had an extensive career as both a solo and band (Locust) member. Now entering his 50’s, he continues to explore sound and texture to create some unsettling pieces of music. Invisible Threads is his latest solo work. Informed by a love of Edgar Allen Poe and the experiences of touring with other Touch artists (see the interview below).
This is a dark ride. An absorbing soundtrack to a rather hesitant night of self-examination. Cinematic in scope, claustrophobic in execution, the album opens with “Weathered” – a wide-screen wash of dark expectation set against a vast ebbing pulse of keyboards, half-heard voices and static interference. This mood is perpetuated by second track, Dark NIght Sky Paradox, a sound constantly threatening direction but perpetually on the edge of collapse. Anxious music.
“Opposite Day” reminded me slightly of TG’s “Exotica”, water and bird sounds mix with chimes to gently soothe. The Yes_No Game is suspended tones and a lone, lamenting female voice. Think Eno, with a Beth Gibbons being recorded at the far end of a very long corridor. Aether is a simple keyboard (not synth, Van Hoen is at pains to point out) that reminded me of Japan’s “Voices Raised in Welcome, Hands Held in Prayer” , but heard through a fug of low-level sonic interference.
Again, at no point can one relax with this music. At least, I couldn’t, It’s not Ambient. It is suffused with an unyielding, unrelenting dread and demands to be faced head-on. Reckoned with, almost. Flight of Fancy is anything but. Nothing is playful and all of it unsettles. Don’t play this to chill-out to or mollify dinner guests. It will set people’s teeth on edge and may actually make people a bit angry. I love it.
This is an excellent release from Touch and despite my anxious emotional reaction to it, I’ve found myself returning to it frequently over the past few days, perhaps finding within its structure and sounds a suitable soundtrack to these dark, strange and frightening days. Bravo, Mr Van Hoen. Bravo.