Peter Van Hoesen, Face of Smoke/Continued Care


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Midway through 2009, we’re no longer debating whether or not Peter Van Hoesen rates a divider card; we’ve moved on to narrowing down favorites for the year-end lists. With the year’s first three records sounding even more assured than the stuff that had everyone blubbering last year, Brussels’ techno mainstay isn’t just a promising up-and-comer anymore; he’s very much arrived. Dude’s even got a nickname in circulation courtesy of mnml ssgs, “The Hose,” although I think his last name actually rhymes with “boozin’.” The Komisch label managed to secure one of the latest of the the Hose’s stunners for its inaugural release, a record that doesn’t reprise the brooding, no-fuss techno of “Attribute One,” but is just as breathtaking.

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Buoyed by a methodical kick drum, the ruthless appeal of “Face of Smoke” comes courtesy of bass surges that swoop and swerve, circling listeners like predators readying for the kill. You’ve read about it a dozen times by now, but Van Hoesen’s background in sound design for theater nevertheless warrants mention, as it pays off so impressively here in crafting a potent and convincing shadowy mood. Squeals that sound like muffled wails play faintly in the mix, and the only levity (relatively speaking) comes from suspenseful shudders of piano. Meanwhile, it’s his studious familiarity with deep and hard techno, well known to followers of his Time To Express blog, that gives the track its sleek, baring-teeth aggression.

Somewhat less discussed is Van Hoesen’s encyclopedic command of Belgium’s EBM heritage. If the Time To Express logo didn’t already offer a few clues, there’s plenty of evidence of Van Hoesen’s professed love for New Beat fare on either side of this record, “Continued Care” making the stronger case. In what could be a funkier update of last year’s “Casual Care,” Van Hoesen negotiates a hypnotic union of bubbling acid and spare darkwave, with a vacant dub undertow. Larry Heard, Liaisons Dangereuses, Norman Nodge — they’re all in there. And oh man are they ever getting sweaty.

chrisdisco  on July 7, 2009 at 8:11 AM

well ‘the hose’ isn’t really an appropriate nickname if you pronounce his name correctly, i later discovered. but i still like it. go the hose! really good review for perhaps my favourite PvH release of 09. from what i hear, the 2nd komisch will also be worth keeping an eye out for.

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