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Playing With Time

Mark Van Hoen

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Album Review

One of the more underappreciated artists in the British electronica scene, Mark Van Hoen states his case for the defense of the genre with Playing With Time. Firmly in the late-'90s lush-ambient sound (that he helped establish through his work with Seefeel, Scala, and Locust), the album is a collection of generally short tracks (all but two under five minutes), each with a distinct mood. Perfectly sequenced, the album begins with "Real Love," featuring the heavily processed vocals of Holli Ashton (who appeared on Locust's Morning Light album) over a sparse dark ambient background, highly reminiscent of early Seefeel. While not continuously mixed, the tracks have distinct ebb and flow between them, carrying one over to another while simultaneously having distinct beginnings and endings. An ambient piece will be followed by a more beat-oriented track, and then something in between. The album closes with a majestic trilogy, "When Tomorrow Comes," "Love Is All" and an unnamed track. "Tomorrow" is a majestic keyboard / faux-orchestral piece, and fades seamlessly into "Love Is All," the other track on the record with vocals, this time from Lisa Millett. Van Hoen treats the vocal with heavy echo, delay, and other DSP effects to weave a tapestry of true subtle, shimmering beauty. The untitled closing track places the listener in ambient territory staked out decades previous by Brian Eno. Composed of several simple piano loops and a simple electronic bassline, the track is set in motion and allows the loops to play off and against each other over the course of its 30 minutes. This is a good album for newcomers to electronic music, as it is melodic, danceable, and chilled out, all in the space of 78 minutes.


Born: 1966 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Mark Van Hoen, also known as Locust, occupied the shadier, more melancholic side of contemporary ambient, assembling records of unmistakable beauty out of shards of dark, somewhat foreboding textures and arrangements. A London native active in the film and commercial music business before concentrating full-time on recording for release, Van Hoen produced...
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Playing With Time, Mark Van Hoen
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