Albums of the Year 2015 – Floating Points – Elaenia

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Floating Points’ debut album “Elaenia” was released in November 2015 and it joins his impeccable discography of singles and EPs released over the past six years, all of which were highly original, totally unique and unmistakably the work of Sam Shepherd. Initially, I found the long player a little underwhelming, but it didn’t take too many listens to get into. Opening track ‘Nespole’ starts things off in a fairly traditional Floating Points manner (minus the beats) as electronic loops build, later joined by smooth synth chords over a warm bassline, but it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun. Album preview track ‘Silhouettes (I, II & III)’ follows, and I think its safe to call this ten minute suite the stand out track. Its cool rhodes, mellow bassline and loose beat evolve as the track progresses, climaxing with a synth solo over soaring strings and beautiful vocal harmonies at the midpoint, then shifting into a jazz-jungle beat before petering out. Check the video preview below.

Title track ‘Elaenia’ (a type of bird) is a jazzy ambient mood piece utilising various keyboards and synths. Lovely to listen to but very hard to describe, so I’ll let the music do the talking and move on to ‘Argente’, which starts with a crescendo of electronic arpeggios that are joined by an emotional lead synth and layers of chords which build tension in the latter half before everything suddenly stops, dropping us into the fragile beat of ‘Thin Air’, another highly restrained track which slowly builds various layers of traditional keys and more electronic arpeggios. ‘For Marmish’ follows, starting with more relaxing chords on the rhodes and a bumpy little beat buried deep in the mix. This track features some of the albums strongest melodies and hooks besides Silhouettes. It segues nicely into the album closer ‘Peroration Six’, whose beat slowly intensifies under a nagging guitar riff, both of which are later joined by a bassline and yet more keys. The groove flows nicely for a couple of minutes before the pressure builds and then suddenly the whole thing caves in on itself and stops; ten seconds of silence follow and that’s it, album over in 42 minutes. But it leaves you wanting more…

Luckily, most of his back catalog is on Spotify. Perhaps start with 2011’s Shadows EP, which is similar in mood but with more emphasis on rhythmic elements. Many of his singles are also aimed more towards the dancefloor but it’s all intelligent and musical. I also highly recommend reading these features and interviews for a better insight into the man behind the music.

Floating Points artist page on Spotify
Braindance feature at Pitchfork.com
Extraordinary Lengths feature on ResidentAdvisor.net

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Da22 says:

    Nice round up, sounds like a good listen, will have to put that on tomorrow, or maybe Sunday, sounds like a chilled out Sunday listen. Loved the video, reminded me of Geometry Wars and then when it paned out to reveal the set, that was genius!

    Like

  2. Da22 says:

    First track is a bit random for me but the rest of the album is solid, very you ☺

    Like

  3. stevenger says:

    All new to me, like the review. The Silhouettes video version sounds oddly intense for that style of music, I love how it defies you to put it on in the background. No, you will *actively* listen!

    Peroration Six is right up my alley, sounds proper unsettling. Not liking the bit at the very end where they shoot Tony Soprano though.

    Like

  4. retrolechuck says:

    Thanks acidbearboy, this is now queued up on my Spotify account

    Like

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