TTW#80 – Mark Van Hoen – The Worcester Tapes, 1983-1987
Cassette only – limited edition of 150 copies.
Buy in the TouchShop
A: Fortified Hill (1987)
B1: Music For Dancers In Disguise (1983)
B2: Riverboats (1983)
B3: Enigma Codes (1984)
B4: Truancy (1983)
B5: Reports (1984)
B6: Passage Abroad (1986)
B7: Old Men’s Wars (1983)
B8: The Stone Fiddle (1983)
B9: Dispelling (1984)
B10: Vomit (1985)
Mark Van Hoen was born in London, England and grew up in the industrial Midlands of England. He began to create electronic music in 1981, later releasing his debut LP on Belgian label R&S in 1993. Since then, Van Hoen has had a succession of highly regarded releases and live performances, ranging from minimalist drone-based material (“Aurobindo: Involution” issued by Ash International in 1994) through the dark, foreboding and pulsating – sometimes abrasive – early Locust albums, to the more recent succession of releases on Editions Mego. Most recently, a composition released via TouchRadio marks a return to the esteemed audio-visual label Touch, after a long absence following the release of several albums in the 90s.
The Tapeworm release “The Worcester Tapes” comprise recordings made as a teenager in the 80s, after Mark moved to the historical English city. These tracks feature his first synthesiser and tape recorder, from 1983; tape loop experiments; and several tracks utilising the Roland S-10, Mark’s first digital sampler… The tape opens with a recently rediscovered 30 minute ambient piece from 1987, “Fortified Hill”. All of these recordings were originally mastered on cassette, and all titles are released here on a physical format for the first and only time. A fascinating snapshot of Mark’s early music, made some 7-10 years before his first official releases.
Vital Weekly (NL):
No regular visitor when it comes to new releases being reviewed in these pages is Mark Van Hoen. He worked as Locust for R&S records, but also produces techno music as Autocreation and Involution. I mostly remember his solo album on Touch and the “Aurobindo : Involution” on Ash International, but that’s already close to twenty years ago (reviewed in Vital Weekly #3; and this 1000 minus 3, quelle coincidence). For his release on The Tapeworm he went back to tapes from his earliest days, recorded as a teenager in the 80s, when he was living in the city of the same name as the title of the tape. The most recent piece on this tape is to be found on the first side, and takes it all up. It’s from 1987 and still quite a few years away from his first official release. This is a piece of ambient music in the best Brian Eno tradition: long sustaining tones from synthesizers and an occasional sparse piano note. The other side has more pieces and which are all shorter (obviously), more “pop” length and carrying bits of rhythm here and there, but also primitive forms of sampling, such as in “Stone Fiddle”, which is where he takes apart a folk song and plays it around in a Steve Reich like manner, but much more playful. It’s not too difficult to see some forecast in some of these pieces to the later Aurobindo work. These are actually all already quite mature pieces, even when it all sounds a bit dated by now, but as little pieces of experimental and electronic music they all work quite well. Its interesting material that we have if one wants to study the career path of Van Hoen. This should be on CD one day!