Somnambule - Writing About Music

Mark Van Hoen ~ The Warmth Inside You

Mark Van Hoen is probably best known for his vocal-oriented project Locust, but he’s also responsible for a series of forays into the world of instrumental electronica. What nominally differentiates Van Hoen’s music from most of its electronic peers is the analogue technology he deploys, but what really distinguishes this particular album is the sense of a beating heart at its centre: technology is harnessed to examine emotional states, rather than to avoid them. The portrait on the cover of The Warmth Inside You provides a useful signpost to the subject matter explored here: a woman holds a large object redolent of a womb and, from a different angle, a bird against her stomach while her apparently troubled partner lies beside her. Anxiety haunts most of these eight tracks: beats lumber heavily along like turtles making their way down to the ocean and melodies occasionally float up like welcome liferafts in music that is alternately stormy, sepulchral and strangely comforting. Mid-paced tempos pulse all too patiently and are shadowed occasionally by high tones reminiscent of the sort of warning bleeps emitted by medical equipment. Van Hoen gradually increases the pressure by tracing out methodically rising and falling arpeggios. The result is a distinct tension between the inexorable progress of the music and the sense of apprehension which hangs over it like an unwelcome stormcloud. While much of the album delineates feelings of tension and foreboding, the album ends on an elegiac note with the throbbing bass and echoing chimes of Three People’s Presence.
Colin Buttimer
October 2004
Published by The Wire