Vondelpark – Sauna review

R&S Records, the #2 label of 2010 here at Juno Plus, have brought us sublime offerings from the likes of James Blake, Space Dimension Controller and Pariah this year, and lo, they come up with the goods once more with this fantastic EP from elusive, little known act, Vondelpark. Named after the famous urban park in Amsterdam – the so-called “Mecca for the Bohemian” – the new R&S signing blend sun drenched lyrics, hazy atmospherics and soft, hissing beats in their aptly named Sauna EP.

“California Analog Dream” provides a delicious entrée, combining blissed out beats, sweeping wave-crashing SFX and evocative strumming guitars in the enticing intro to the EP. Faded out, bleached cooing vocals lull us in to the main tune like a summer ballad from yesteryear. Sepia tones prevail for the main part with gorgeous melodies, delicate percussion and an increasing sense of yearning. “Hippodrome”, up next, introduces a 2-step vibe and more impressive, masterfully executed guitar play with similar watercolour blended vocals washing in and out like distant memories.

Dreamy, relaxing and truly delightful, it’s just a taste of what’s to come. “Jetblag Blue Version” has a more driving, piston-driven garage rhythm, full of Mount Kimbie-esque echoes, blissed out atmospherics and a reverberating soundscape in which The xx-style snippets dance around some more soulful indie moments. “Backflip (In The Sauna)” completes the EP with a beautiful, sonorous passage, full of instrumental flourishes and understated wonder. Spaced out sounds and haunting SFX are punctuated by reverbed lyrics which loop around beats seductively for the duration. An impressive debut here, which undoubtedly rounds off 2010 nicely for R&S. Safe to say, Vondelpark will be one of the acts we’re watching for 2011. Expect a lot more to come.

Belinda Rowse