floating-points

Sam Shepherd has been releasing perfectly formed EPs and 12-inches as Floating Points since 2010, but quite how they’ve informed ‘Elaenia’ is unclear: where previous releases mainly contented themselves with the dancefloor, offering seductive builds, drops and swells in five-minute chunks, his debut album is a far broader affair, owing more to the ecstatic free jazz tendencies of John Coltrane, blaxploitation soundtracks and even the elegiac abstraction of recent Radiohead.

That’s not to say Shepherd’s abandoned his roots – ’Elaenia’ is still undeniably an electronic record, trading on modulations of repeated motifs and glitched textures with rich, syrupy synth playing at the fore, and he’s allowed the occasional proggy explorations from previous EPs to run far wilder here too. Crucially, though, what makes ‘Elaenia’ so moreish is the atmosphere Shepherd evokes: effortlessly groove-laden live drums, hazy not-quite-melodies and a seamless flow across its 43 minutes makes for rather hypnotic listening.

It ends with a monstrous build, with layers of krauty guitars and drums piled upon each other before a honking sax joins and Shepherd cuts the whole thing dead in its tracks. It’s a dizzying, virtuoso and bold act, and somewhat emblematic of the album that’s gone before.

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