Berliner Niklas Kramer previously produced indie-folk music under the moniker Deep Sea Diver – not to be confused with the American indie-rock band of the same name – before pursuing electronic music production. Kramer’s early work as Still Parade was made in fully equipped, professional studios, and on these recordings the influence of ‘60s and ‘70s folk, pop, funk and soul are evident, although the clean production values meant they were never truly felt by the listener. A gift, from his father, of a tape recorder sparked an interesting in experimenting with recording techniques, and from this Kramer learnt that he preferred the sounds he was producing in his small apartment.
Concrete Vision is the sound Kramer created in his apartment on that tape recorder, and the analogue warmth of the recordings makes his influences something that the listener can hear and feel, rather than just being an intellectual tidbit for the audience to consider. Aural warmth alone isn’t itself enough to make a song, and Still Parade produces the most pleasing results when infusing his music with funk, soul, or ‘60s Californian-pop-rock elements, as he does with standout track, 7:41, which has a strong funk/soul vibe – with a tasteful synth-pop update – that manages to never come across as a ham-fisted retro pastiche.
Walk In The Park definitely pays homage to ‘60s power-pop while the titular Concrete Vision gives the listener a small taste of psychedelia in its trippy second half, which manages to mesh well with the strong drum and bass rhythms from the song’s first half. While Still Parade excel on these retro-esque tracks, the synth heavy opener, Seasons, and later Chamber – which couples via cross-fade with Morning Light – are examples of the way which Kramer’s compositions can take on the character of background music. In reality this is the major shortfall of Concrete Playground, for even when Still Parade are strongest the music lacks an impetus, a drive, an energy that keeps the listener enraptured. This is good for people who just want to chillax, but ultimately leaves this debut LP falling short.