Album Review - Vondelpark - Seabed (April 2, 2013 on R&S Records).
Seabed is a piece of work probably best listened to in some sort of isolation tank somewhere with a built-in subwoofer sound system. It is such a defined record, and such an intricate sounding record, that it can take you to another world, albeit only if you allow it to take you there.
I imagine this album will pass a lot of people by as it is primarily a headphone record. However, if that’s your thing, then this is a perfect record for you.
Vondelpark deal primarily in beautifully configured bedroom jams that join the dots between acts like The Cure, St. Germain and Four Tet.
After a few deep plunges into Vondelpark’s first LP it’s best described as a dream come true. A warm and wavy structure to the hook-filled opener introduces a crafted sound that makes precise use of the sonic spectrum with clearer and crisper instrumentation than previous recordings.
Reaching “Dracula” three tracks into Seabed – weeks after hearing and replaying it over and over since its release as the first single – reassures that this really is a cohesive and considered album; up-front shakers, multi-pan creases of textured mechanics, round pop-infused toms and a pulsating siren-sounding sample envelops it all together.
“Blue Again” reveals itself as a track more reminiscent of Vondelpark’s work before Seabed, but the clarity and depth in frequencies make for a sound that comes from a band that is now using fresh studio production techniques previously unavailable or unimagined.
There are several different styles and genres on display with each song, each as different as the next, but overall it’s more indie or even lounge music than the R’n’B tag it’s been generally given by critics.
Seabed is an album is all or nothing – once you have committed to it, you have to go the full distance with it, all the way, well, to the seabed. You really have to immerse yourself in it wholeheartedly or else you don’t get the full impact of the record or the intent behind it.
The heavily washed over melodies are very much about undertone/undercurrent and the LP’s title is no coincidence as underwater themes run throughout, and the production on the album does its part in accompanying these themes. A good example of this is the vocals, which are instantly addictive and somehow familiar-sounding upon first listen, all cloaked in an underwater fog. On previous EPs Sauna and NYC Stuff And NYC Bags (also on R&S Records), it was next to impossible to make out what Lewis Rainsbury was actually saying. On Seabed, he opens up a little and delivers some very special moments.
The new take on “California Analog Dream” personifies the overall transformation of their old sound to the new, being a more instrument-based track with the two-step beat replaced with a sweet drum track, and a toning down on the electronic side of things, opting for a more traditional approach.
The attention to detail on this release is awe inspiring and makes this excitingly innovative young outfit a massively attractive listen.