Mark Van Hoen, also known as Locust, occupied the shadier, more melancholic side of contemporary ambient and techno, assembling records of unmistakable beauty out of shards of dark, somewhat foreboding textures and arrangements. Although early Locust releases such as 1994's Weathered Well explored sprawling experimental soundscapes and jagged rhythms, albums like 1997's Morning Light placed more of a focus on songwriting, with guest vocalists and rhythms that veered closer to trip-hop. While Van Hoen put Locust on hold following 2001's Wrong, concentrating on releases under his own name, the project returned with 2013's You'll Be Safe Forever.
A London native active in the film and commercial music business before concentrating full-time on recording for release, Van Hoen quoted Steve Reich, David Sylvian, Kraftwerk, and Brian Eno as early influences and later pursued paths of creative conception opened up by John Coltrane and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Following Locust's 1993 debut, Skysplit, an EP for R&S, he signed with that label's Apollo ambient imprint and released the full-length Weathered Well in 1994. Additionally, the label issued In Remembrance of Times Past (an LP of recordings from the 1980s) and the CD compilation Natural Composite the same year.
With 1995's Truth Is Born of Arguments, Van Hoen incorporated elements of breakbeat styles such as trip-hop and jungle -- mostly in terms of production techniques as opposed to aesthetic qualities, and with a decidedly Locust flair. Seefeel's Sarah Peacock and British singer Wendy Roberts guested on the album, but 1997's Morning Light was far more vocal-heavy, with contributors including Slowdive's Neil Halstead and Apollo labelmate Annie Williams. A modified version of the album was released in America by Sire in 1998. The double CD Wrong was released by Touch in 2001; the first disc, consisting of songs sung by Holli Ashton, was meant to be played simultaneously with the ambient second disc.
Van Hoen had begun releasing more experimental albums under his birth name during the 1990s, and he continued doing so during the 2000s, additionally working with groups like Mojave 3 and Seafood during this time. A 2013 session for WFMU prompted Van Hoen and collaborator Louis Sherman to reactivate Locust for You'll Be Safe Forever (2013). Van Hoen, active as ever, joined Neil Halstead and Nick Holton for Black Hearted Brother, and was then a driving force behind Children of the Stones; both groups released albums. Van Hoen and Sherman subsequently returned as Locust for After the Rain (2014). ~ Sean Cooper