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Vondelpark : Seabed

Track artwork

UK trio Vondelpark share their name with a picturesque open space in Amsterdam that boasts bars, restaurants and an open-air theatre, where – a few years back – plans were very nearly approved to allow people to have sex in public, and if chilled-out, vaguely trippy early releases like 2011’s NYC Stuff & NYC Bags EP suggested a kinship with those happy to spend an afternoon relaxing on the grass with a beer and some weed, admiring sculptures and watching strangers bump uglies, debut album Seabed finds the band upping the ante and providing the soundtrack for the whole orgiastic affair. Soulful and seductive, this is cybersex music, electronic R&B so silky smooth and futuristic you can imagine it being played on a loop in the master bedroom of Prince’s space-age bachelor pad, and we’re not talking clumsy quickies here either: with original sole member Lewis Rainsbury now joined by Matt Law and Alex Bailey, these songs take their time, sprawling out to include luxurious piano chords, funk bass lines, guitar solos and live kit sounds. At its most immediate – opener “Quest”, for example – electronic and acoustic elements (a grinding machine-made beat, warm, shimmering keyboard washes, xylophone) combine to stunning effect, but Seabed‘s real charms are the ones that reveal themselves more warily; tracks like “Dracula” and “Come On” may lack obvious radio-friendly hooks, but their slow-building, multi-layered structures hint at a band more concerned with building lasting musical relationships than being the latest flavour of the week. On the down-side, much of the album is somewhat one-paced, so any deviation from that formula is bound to stand out and best of all is the re-recorded version of previous EP track “California Analog Dream” (below), which introduces an element of Teutonic discipline with a simultaneously loose and rigid drum pattern ripped directly from the pages of The Jaki Liebezeit Guide To Rhythm & Timekeeping. With its man-machine beat inducing the same kind of trance-state serenity as a cruise-controlled ride along the Autobahn, the track finds the band flexing their muscles and pushing the boundaries of their “Sade-meets-The XX” sound in the most compelling way. An impressive debut from a band showing great promise.

Seabed is out April 1 on R&S Records and is streaming now via Pitchfork Advance

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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