"Double-Crosser" (Album, 2006) !DSO Recommended!
Now that we have had the opportunity to hear singer Frank Spinath's voice as part of other projects (like the promising Edge Of Dawn, and in several guest vocalist spots like on Stromkern's latest album), we can experience Spinath's voice and intelligent lyrics once more in its original context.
Let's get the below-par bit quickly out of the way: what strikes me with the somewhat standard Traitor [Extended], and I think explains some of my disappointment that up until now Seabound haven't managed to live up to my hopes for them, is that they often fail to fully exploit their talents. But contrast Traitor's attempts to make you dance with the gentle October Song that wonderfully blends the compassion of Spinath's voice with his and Martin Vorbrodt's warm electronics. This is some way from the half-hearted 'harsh' vocal style of its Traitor, is far more convincing and better suited to his voice. And it only gets better on Castaway which boasts a beautiful chorus refrain: "If you save my life, we will rise and shine so bright, that the stars will go blind and leave the sky".
Thankfully, it's this richer tone that's carried through most of the album making this latest (third) long-playing release Seabound's finest release to date. It definitely feels and sounds like their most cohesive set of compositions. Perhaps the non-Seabound work has enabled Spinath and Vorbrodt to get other expressive needs out of their systems and at the same time resulted in a more concentrated Seabound sound. They've even included another ambient instrumental, the graceful Every Last Grain, that once again begs the question, when will Vorbrodt go with his convictions and simply produce an entirely instrumental album? (I'm smacking my lips just at the thought.) It's all wrapped up beautifully too with eight minute glacial epic Breathe that superbly captures everything that Seabound do best.
Although they cannot claim the sophistication of Martin Gore's songwriting abilities, there are moments (like on Sapphire) when thoughts of Depeche Mode's more introvert b-sides and album tracks from their Music For The Masses and Violator era come to mind when soaking up Double-Crosser. They are now giving Covenant (whose Eskil Simonsson co-produced and mixed Scorch The Ground and Castaway) a run for their money though, and this latest release ought to see their popularity expand. At last, Seabound start to fulfil their promise. 8/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)
"Beyond Flatline Tour 2004" (Promo EP, 2004)
Strictly limited promotional EP that was only handed out free to those who saw the band as part of their 2004 Beyond Flatline Tour. This was a split release with label mates Pride and Fall with each artist getting two tracks apiece. The usual form for ephemeral releases such as this is to just slap on a couple of quickly knocked out remixes that sound like the remixer has just switched on the equipment and pressed auto-pilot. Not so this release. Any fan of the band able to track down a copy of this is well advised to grab a copy if they can. Band member Martin Vorbrodt is responsible for the Beacon In The Night mix of Watching Over You - itself a highlight from Beyond Flatline. It's a bass-heavy and moody take on an already choice track and gives it another personality that does, indeed, reach out like a beacon in the night.
Floating (feat. Andrew Sega) sees co-composer Sega share mixing duties with Vorbrodt. This sounds like it could just about get away with being played in Ministry of Sound. It has all the quality club remix characteristics that so many bands aim for and the vast majority miss entirely (see all those wasted opportunities Nettwerk released for Delerium to see just how not to do this). An inventive and uplifting mix that never sacrifices the original's strengths. (See the Pride and Fall page for details of their two tracks.) 7/10
Rob Dyer (May 2008)
"Poisonous Friend" (EP, 2004)
This single is further ammunition to those fighting for the Seabound cause. Although the bottom line for me is that this is largely an unremarkable single, it is proving quite a challenge to stop the title track tune swimming around inside my head. Seabound have undeniable talent. But since the release of their second album, my interest has wained. Nevetheless, this extended play single ensures they stick in your mind - whether you want them to or not.
Remix duties are delivered by scene contemporaries Cut.Rate.Box, Stromkern, Severed Heads and (not entirely surprisingly) most impressively Haujobb with their tranquil mix of Watching Over You. All this spread across nine tracks, six different songs and the best part of 50 minutes, you've got to award top marks both to Seabound and label Dependent for value for money. As for the compositions themselves, there's still room for improvement. 6/10
Rob Dyer (November
"Beyond Flatline" (Album, 2003)
The second long player from this rising German duo is, sadly, something of a disappointment. Touted by promoters and fans alike as a contender alongside the likes of Covenant or Haujobb, Seabound's first album, No Sleep Demon, certainly demonstrated elements of those fine outfits - future promise if not future perfect. In spite of being three years in the making (one is tempted to enquire just how all that time was spent) this doesn't really take their song writing much further forward. It feels very much like an album of tremendous promise that, again, isn't fully realised.
It's still very much Seabound, and that means a distinctive level of quality is attained, but I get little sense of excitement or real invention. The technical aspects of the production are impressive and do help set them apart from many of their rivals, but the 36 month development time is reflected in an odd sense of lack of focus. The shimmering first minute of opener Transformer promises a more intellectual soundtrack experience, but another thirty seconds in and the more conventional beats set the tone for much of what is to follow. And it is the higher BPM, beat driven songs where the interest wanes more quickly.
Songs like the single Contact could have come straight off the first album. More interesting are the mellow and technically impressive Soul Diver, the muted Digital and Watching Over You has a terrific chorus line that is trademark Seabound. If only they could tighten up everything around it they'd have a killer formula. It's also disappointing not to find any instrumentals - something I'd love to see Seabound develop. Dependent label boss Stefan Herwig publicly states his lack of interest in instrumentals (as items for release on his label) and I can't help wonder if his influence affected the choice of tracks for inclusion here. Go International with its shamelessly enthusiastic bouncing beats and sing-along chorus is the only real future pop element here.
The missing quantum leap is certainly eased with repeated listening, but with so many inspirational and exhilarating acts around at the moment, time is rapidly slipping away from Seabound to make an serious impression - but I'd happily be proven wrong. However, if it takes them another three years to come up with the next album I fear it will be too late for me to care. 7/10
Rob Dyer (April,
"No Sleep Demon" (Album, 2001)
Just as their top artist (Covenant) left them for bigger things, the German electronic label Dependent released the debut album by newcomers Seabound. This German duo slot neatly into the Dependent roster - sharing some similarities with Covenant and stable mates VNV Nation. With the genre press going berzerk over the so-called 'future pop' tag (did I unwittingly create this in one of my early reviews, I wonder?) at the moment, there couldn't have been a better time for Seabound to launch themselves.
No Sleep Demon opens with a rather plodding drum beat and mundane vocals on Smoke, then the chorus comes in and takes the track into a much more interesting direction with some unusual harmonious breaks. The album that follows is a reasonably well balanced mix of ballads, dance floor fillers and atmospheric pieces but does suffer slightly as coming across as a bit 'calculated'. It appears to try extremely hard to sound the way it does and yet that sound isn't unique to Seabound. If you are a follower of Dependent fashion and you want more of the same then this is definately for you. That isn't to say that this isn't without it's own interest - far from it, in fact. There are some decidedly moving and stimulating pieces included here.
Covenant's Eskil Simmonson produced and mixed Travelling, but you'd do well to spot any significant difference to the rest of the album. A middleing track, again it isn't until the chorus comes in that Seabound really distinguish themselves. Exorcize is the first track that really comes together and what's more it contains the priceless sample of a laconic American woman telling us that "Jesus Christ died with a hard-on." But it isn't until we get to the fourth track, Point Break, that things really begin to get interesting. This is a brilliant chilled-out piece slightly reminiscent of Forma Tadre but more uplifting - this has moments of real beauty. (It also contains an obscure sample from What Noise by Kissing The Pink!).
Torn, Dunnocks, (the single) Hooked and Coward return to the mid-tempo dark beat stuff. The penultimate Avalost is the only instrumental and has more in common with Point Break that anything else here. A nice build and more of those lighter touches. Meanwhile, the final Rome On Fire distinguishes itself with its upfront and proficient vocals. No Sleep Demon is a strong first album, in fact, it has the strange effect (on me at least) of seeming better than it actually is. It has a couple of great tracks but most are just fair. Yet, I find myself returning to it again and again. It remains to be seen just how far Seabound's talent stretches, but I watch closely with keen interest. Meanwhile, I very much look forward to hearing them live. 7/10
"Hooked" (Limited Edition promo single, 2001)
The promotional version of the second single from Seabound's debut album features two versions of the band's Radical Mix of the title track, plus the regular album version, and is limited to 1,000 copies. Clearly aimed primarily at DJs, the Radical Mix ups the BPMs slightly, reduces the strings, and adds more of a groove than simply pile on the drums. Going back to the album version (which appears as track two) after hearing this mix, it sounds surprisingly 'flat' in comparison. The final track (Radical Mix [alt.vocal edit]) takes the Radical Mix and plays around mainly with the vocals on the verses, replacing the emotional original with an emotionless, more 'robotic' incarnation. Interesting, as this is not a direction Seabound have otherwise gone into. Some of these promos were available direct to fans via the Dependent website. 5/10