Up to this point, VONDELPARK has felt like a slightly intangible and secret entity. Both their Sauna and nyc stuff and nyc bags EPs were passed along enthusiastically in hushed tones by those who heard them. The music carried the most exciting strands of bedroom music; it sounded special, and at first it was almost impossible to tell where it had come from, or who. The band is made up of three childhood friends — Lewis Rainsbury (vocals, production, bass, guitar, keys), Alex Bailey (bass) and Matt Law (keys) — all 22 or 23 years of age, living together in close quarters in London. Over the past couple of years the trio have developed their sound from those tentative first steps of Sauna into something that sounds excitingly bold and intuitive on their debut album, Seabed.
Rainsbury describes VONDELPARK’s recording process as quite insular, often spending days seeing no other people, “that’s where the name comes from, we didn’t feel like we existed in the real world, it felt like we were hiding in a seabed.” That submerged atmosphere comes across on the album, replacing the airiness of Vondelpark’s early bedroom recordings for something slightly grander, but still intensely inward-looking. The biggest shift comes in the loose feel to some of these songs. On songs like “Dracula,” it no longer sounds like the work of one person in a bedroom. Instead, there’s a collaborative feel to the rhythms and playing, helping imbue the record with a real sense of life.
Tracing the sonic history of “California Analog Dream,” from initially being a highlight on the band’s debut EP sauna to inclusion on the debut full-length, feels like uncovering the story of the band that produced it. On the song’s initial version Rainsbury’s voice kept you at arms length. On Seabed his vocal take draws you in, feeling magnetic and intense. It’s on this song in particular that you can really mark the changes that Vondelpark have been through over the past 18 months of recording. Rainsbury describes Seabed as a coming of age record, and that’s something that could just as easily apply to the impressive transformation Vondelpark have made during its conception.
Vondelpark’s Seabed is out April 2nd on R&S Records.