VONDELPARK play a special free show at the Shacklwell Arms in support of their brilliant new EP.
Formed last spring after a trip to LA by Lewis Rainsbury, Alex Bailey and Matt Law, VONDELPARK early work found release on the Sauna EP, a record that explored the emotional blankness of modern life – plane travel, jet lag, interaction and long distance relationships, yet crackling between Lewis’ haunted voice and haunting vocal samples, Sauna was a work of precocious emotional depth and density. Home recorded and lo-fi, it blended cut-and-paste sampled beats and longingly minimal guitar lines, yet the complexity of arrangements and layers of sounds were made to feel natural and simplistic.
Their second EP, nyc bags and nyc stuff, develops on the musical themes of Sauna. Still anchored by Lewis’ tender vocals it’s more abstract in its sampling and feels more musically cohesive. Rather than dealing with the emotional alienation of modernity nyc bags instead feels deeply personal, an exploration of the internal rather than external.
Opening track ‘TV’ maybe best exemplifies their use of samples and the way they are built around original work, constructing stuttering melodic evocations that grow from a single repetitive loop to mingle with a sparkling guitar and implacable snatches of vocals. When the beats kick in over the refrain of ‘Colder, faster, TV’ it climaxes so subtly it could almost be missed. Second track ‘Feat B’ is the EP’s most straightforward, almost encroaching on r’n’b in its structure and influence, drawing on the genre’s sentimentality and slow jams and underpinned by a female vocal. Like much of the work on nyc bags the vocals are manipulated in a way that the original sense of what’s been used, sampled and recorded is deviated from to leave just its abstract imprint and after listening for long enough the distinction between original recording and sampling becomes blurred beyond recognition. Like ‘Feat B’, ‘Camels’ also takes something from r’n’b, but more conspicuously draws on the beats of the UK underground, it is instrumentally dense and vast, in which guitars and samples seem to entangle and intertwine with each other in expressive knots. ‘Hipbone’ mixes the plaintive overlapping vocals with hypnotic keys and mournful echoing horns, like all of Vondelpark’s music it is simplistic yet never simplified, whilst both touching and poignant. It’s left to ‘Outro For nyc’ to slowly bring us to the EP’s end, like a shadow of the whole work, or travelling back from a club at six am, with the echoes of that night’s music reverberating inside your head, the increasingly faint resonations of sub and treble that interplay with whatever your taxi driver is listening too as you glide under streetlights, only half-aware of where you’re going.
nyc stuff and nyc bags ep
R & S Records
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