Sure enough, Van Hoen's productions are caked in earthy grit, which gives the distinct feeling that they're in some way relics. In spite of this, there's an underlying sense that the artist's past anxieties have not yet been totally quelled; there's a resigned urgency throughout, as if his need to move forward is at odds with the crippling weight of the past. This is especially apparent on the vocal tracks—the clouded downtempo lurch of "Don't Look Back" meets a lucid intonation of the title phrase, and the result is a kind of foreboding beacon.
But of course, the project is about looking back. Van Hoen doesn't heed the track's advice, and he sinks deeply into his past with fairly high-drama results. On "Where Were You?" a slow, skittery rhythm undercuts a pleading arrangement, and the track is eventually sewn together with an icy synth. The washing machine churn of "Unknown Host" is blanketed by soaring vocal tones, while "Garabndl X" has elegiac, decaying strings, faintly accompanied by industrial rumbles. The crowning piece, though, is the finale, "Holy Me." The track is nine-and-a-half minutes of textured, strangulated vocal drones, sealing the record with a plaintive flourish.
As the title suggests, The Revenant Diary is an extremely personal work, an intense exhumation of Van Hoen's own ghosts. However, many of its sentiments resemble those of a younger generation of artists recording for labels like Tri Angle. Van Hoen may be submerged in his own past, but the melancholic apprehension of the record is thoroughly universal.