Question: What happens when a trained musician with a love of neuroscience and DJing takes on the oft-repetitive world of electronica? Answer: the world receives a sweeping, majestic debut from Floating Points that pleases hearts and minds alike. Multi-instrumentalist Sam Shepherd has been on the scene for a while now, making contemporaries of Four Tet and Caribou all the while collecting a mass of unpronounceable synths and creating his own harmongraph to produce his own art – as you do. Clearly not one to keep idle it's amazing it's taken this long to receive a debut proper, but on listening it's clearly a good thing that it has.
'Elaenia' is a combination of all of Shepherd's experiences, from the childhood spent as chorister and learning piano to his recent years as an in-demand producer. This is instantly clear on opener 'Nespole', a number which lures the listener in with some tweaked electronics before jazzy melodies and sweeping synths let the recipient know they're in for a far more eclectic trip than first assumed. 'Silhouettes (I, II, & III) is epic in the truest sense. An almost classically grand assault on the senses filled with strings, backing vocals, perfectly judged percussion and appreciated moments of calm. It's a magnificently composed number and executed with just the right amount of bite.
The title track calms things down to an almost dream state, keys and drones almost disappearing into the fog of ambience it's created. 'Thin Air' borders on trancey and would make a fine companion on any late night drive - or space travel for that matter. 'For Marmish' is a gentle ride almost romantic in nature. A masterfully subtle soundscape before the following finale of 'Peroration Six' builds to a grinding, almost industrial explosion. Abrupt but astounding.
'Elaenia' is one of those rare albums that crosses genres and audiences with ease due in thanks to the sheer craft that's gone into its seven tracks. 'Kid A' may have been made by a 'rock band' and 'Endtroducing' by a DJ but that hasn't stopped audiophiles of all types and tastes whacking them on to enter a nocturnal odyssey. If you've any sense, you'll find a place in your library for this album to do the same.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
- - -
- - -