TO:31 – Mark Van Hoen “Last Flowers from the Darkness”

9 tracks – CD – 64:07

Track list:

1. 1967
2. Another Light Casts Its Will
3. Night Sky Alternatives
4. The Once Green Hill
5. Suggestions
6. Xenophobe
7. Vessel of Flight
8. Channel of Light
9. A Glimmer of Forgotten Ancestors


Alternative Press (USA):

“Whether helping to mastermind the sensual interweaving of guitar and sampler with Seefeel or scraping together the eclectic mix of desolate soundscapes and overpowering distortion of Locust, Mark Van Hoen is a stylistic chameleon leaving an indelible mark on the face of electronics. The Last Flowers From The Darkness is an odds-and-ends collection of tracks recorded between 1992 and 1996 that runs the gamut from ethereal drum & bass to cryptic slabs of nothingness interspersed with sampled dialogue. What makes Van Hoen’s work so engrossing is his attention to detail, especially in how he makes the most minimal pieces sound lush through the addition of ghostly melodies and broken voices. For example, Van Hoen manipulates a collection of sampled voices on ‘1967’ until they resemble an alien language, then combines them with expressive noodling in the vein of Aphex Twin’s ambient works. er of Forgotten Ancestors’ is a driftwork of homeric proportions, majestically claiming both Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock and Brian Eno’s Music For Films as spiritual forefathers. The Last Flowers From The Darkness possesses a cinematic scope, as each track suggests a wide range of emotions while conjuring up abstract visuals for your mind.” [Bill Cohen]

Option (UK):

“As a former Seefeel collaborator and producer, and current co-Leader of Locust, Van Hoen has typically subordinated himself to group concepts, but this CD of collected solo works (1992-1996), allows him to display various aspects of his musical imagination. Styles include acid jazz, minimalist drum ‘n’ bass, moody, ambient techno and a few pieces with an ominous edge, such as the eerie ‘Xenophobe’, with its claustrophobic vocal loops and ‘Vessel of Light’, which features a cavernous bass drum sound and dissonant, high-pitched drones alternately shimmering, stuttering and sputtering. In the hands of a lesser techno artist (of which there are many), the program on this CD would probably represent a ‘once-over-lightly’ survey of various popular forms, but Van Hoen seems able to put his personal stamp on everything he touches. While nothing on this CD represents a musical revelation, every piece has something to recommend it, and Van Hoen never sounds as if he is just going through the motions.’ [Bill Tilland]

Stained/Feedback Monitor (US Radio):

“Those with a taste for the darker side may also want to look into The Last Flowers From The Darkness by Mark Van Hoen, a disc that sees him visiting ground that is much more experimental than (but just as compelling as) that which he usually explores under his Locust moniker”

Immerse (UK):

” Tastefully packaged in a cardboard sleeve, Van Hoen’s collection of tracks from1992 to 1996 display a different side to his Locust incarnation. The Last Flowers… tracks Van Hoen’s interest in more melodic, less confrontational song structures. That feeling of well crafted envelopment is still there, but the harsh jarring beats of the last Locust album are replaced with gentle breakbeats, swirling ambience and crackling trip hop, making The Last Flowers…a much more accessible, yet equally agreeable, release than previous Locust outings.” [mFr]


“Mark Van Hoen, the man behind Locust and sometime Seefeel producer and collaborator, here straddles the intersection of drum ‘n’ bass, ambient, new age and pop. His sense of melody is (dis)embodied in the ethereal voices floating around various tracks. Beats that will set your toes tapping and your head nodding hold earthbound some of the more spacey and airy elements, while basslines just hint at the more dangerous depths of dub. Through it all, a highly visual sensibility is apparent. You’ll find yourself coming up with visual metaphors for many of these tracks.” [Gabe]

Calmant (Lithuania):

“If you come across a record release by TOUCH, get ready for “high end quality” sort of music. Partly because of the album’s content, the material is mellow ambient, though it is not any kind of regularity as a trademark, because “other side” of this record (sic) is stirring on the edge intoxicated techno timbres fusing dance-to-be rhythms of trip-hop. Such a result comes out of THE LAST FLOWERS documents from 1992-1996 period and that makes the album diverse musical experience (sic). The compositions emphasising drum&bass orientation make you sweaty before diving into ambient cosmos.”

The Wire (UK):

“A selection of work stretching from 1992-6 ranging from trancey loops and Ambient Techno to more spaced out soundscaping. Beats come in to pass the time but the mood is definitely crepescular chill-out. “Night Sky Alternatives” runs a simple cyclic loop recalling O Yuki Conjugate, but though Van Hoen veers towards the hypnotic, he never ventures far from well-worn Ambient Techno grooves. Two 1996 tracks, “Vessel of Flight” and “Channel of Light”, take a held chord through different electronic mutations. “A Glimmer of Forgotten Ancestors” rounds off the disc with 23 minutes of gently see-sawing ambience: a mellow, pastoral feel with wafting piano and running water. A lullaby for pastoral pagans.” [Matt ffytche]

Magic Feet (UK):

“Beginning an album with a warped vocal sample that sounds suspiciously like ‘a hotel wank’ is different, at the very least. The vocal then mutates into a rather original counterpoint to the rhythm track as a mountain-stream-fresh flute floats over the tropical forest of sound on ‘1967’. ‘Another Light Cast Its Will’ is as invigorating a slice of premier drum ‘n’ bass as you’re likely to hear, this year or next. ‘Night Sky Alternatives’ lopes down into the more typically austere territory explored by Van Hoen under his Locust guise on R&S. Stumbling along a steady path, treading on a variety of tone mines, seemingly at random, the track is both spacious and trippy. ‘The Once Green Hill’ evolves into a cinematic beauty then inexplicably stops dead, as though an unfinished demo track. As ‘Suggestions’ kicks its idiosyncratic way in, you’d be forgiven for thinking each new track is made by someone else. A note; this album is a compilation of Van Hoen’s recordings from ’92 to ’96, which explains why it’s such a schizophrenic listen. From here the album’s second half turns into an ambient fest of premier quality, starting with ‘Xenophobe’ which takes us into ambient noir territory, as does the oscillating texture of ‘Vessel of Light’. Expecting some beat action on the next track ‘Channel of Light’ to offset the floaty previous two tracks. After the track’s theme of a sustained string chord progression is stated and restated and stated again, a simple, effective, stripped hip-hop rhythm kicks in to define another fine piece of highly original music. Album closer ‘A Glimmer of Forgotten Ancestors’ is a gossamer-fine assembleage of a host soothing sounds, as the gentle, cantering percussion lulls you through a dreamy, creamy, beamy 23 minutes. A diverse collection from someone who knows what he wants and how to get it from his little black boxes. Excellent.” [Andy McCall Smith]

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“Mark Van Hoen, the creative force behind Locust, doesn’t stray from his habitual course on THE LAST FLOWERS FROM THE DARKNESS. Though the nine tracks were recorded between 1992-1996, and are therefore coterminous with his ongoing activities as Locust, this is the first title designated as a Van Hoen solo release. DARKNESS, an invaluable addition to the Van Hoen catalog, was issued in 1997, quickly sold out, and was repackaged for a 1999 re-release.

Recent material (‘1967,’ ‘Another Light Casts its Spell,’ ‘Vessel of Flight,’ ‘Channel of Light’) reflects Van Hoen’s contemporary fascinations with bumpy breakbeats and shuddering vocal loops. Though clearly informed by the disquieted ambience of mid-period Locust, 1994’s ‘Night Sky Alternatives’ takes an unexpected turn toward sparse, dubbed-out hip-hop. ‘The Once Green Hill’ and ‘Suggestions’ date from 1992, but Van Hoen’s experiments with opulent textures and mutating rhythms transcend the techno tradition of the time. A live-in-95 recording of ‘Xenophobe’ (from the Locust’s 1994 album, WEATHERED WELL) sees Van Hoen kicking out his ghostly jams at Heavenly Intelligence Agency’s legendary Oscillate. ‘A Glimmer of Forgotten Ancestors,’ 20+ minutes of vaporous atmosphere, Budd-like piano, environmental sounds, and footfall rhythms, closes the collection on an especially lovely, contemplative note.”