Anyone who’s spent a bit of time at a Center Parcs will know it makes for a pretty weird experience. The Dutch holiday villages were first built in the ‘60s and quickly spread across Europe as a cheap getaway where the whole family were reluctantly catered to within one fenced area in the middle of nowhere. Nowadays most of them remain empty and untouched. This is where Dutch producers Palmbomen II and Betonkust chose to spend a winter working on an improvisational techno record. Unsurprisingly the resulting LP, released on Dekmantel, is something of an emotional rollercoaster.
Tracks like ‘Renaat Egypte’ are dark and ominous, evoking subterranean techno but with crackled, hazy drum tracks that prevent things from becoming too menacing. ‘Smerig Eiland’ is altogether more utopian and almost tropical but again shrouded in an eerie mist. Indeed every track on the ‘Center Parcs’ LP has softened edges thanks largely to it being recorded directly onto tape from extended jam sessions between the two producers. It’s a record that covers a lot of ground, but there is still an inevitable continuity brought on by the hardware and location it was recorded in.
‘Verminkte Toekan’ hinges around a synthesised steel drum lead which borders on the saccharine but somehow makes sense given the context. Palmbomen is keen to point out that this is not a tongue-in-cheek exercise though, instead his aim is to harness the strange sadness of their environment. The duo’s music is an immersive experience reflective of their process. The further you get into the record, the more it captures your imagination. True, finding an appropriate moment to give it your attention could be tricky but the reward is journey to a very unique mindspace.
Words: Jack Dolan
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