After 2015’s brilliant “Elaenia” LP, this year has been largely about quiet consolidation for Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points. I saw them play a fantastic gig in Brixton in February (blogged about here) but missed his Glastonbury set. “Elaenia” is one of those unique albums that everybody that I recommended it to has loved it.
Sam’s recorded output that I’ve located since has been limited to a couple of releases.
He released “Kuiper” in July. A 12″ inch single but over 30 minutes in length (so practically an album), it gave Sam space to stretch out. The A-side was “For Marmish ii”, an extension of one of the tracks from his debut LP. A short repetitive refrain, like an off beat version of the very first section of “Tubular Bells” was repeated with no much variation for 14 minutes with some swelling electric piano. Sounds dull as dishwater but it is hypnotically beautiful.
The B-side (and perversely the title track) “Kuiper” was more electronic with a rhythm building in intensity until about six minutes in it becomes overwhelming with huge washes of slightly discordant John Barry like synths. A Radiohead bass pulse emerges and crashes on, the rhythm taken over by a drummer as opposed to a box of tricks. Everything drops away again until the earlier keyboards return. It all then fades again before a melody from a Len Deighton spy movie returns and we are then off for a final trip through a snowy Berlin park. It is a terrific counterpoint to the gently burbling alternate side, full of drama.
Here’s an excerpt from “Kuiper”, recorded on BBC 6 Music. Whilst somewhat shorter, it captures the intense dynamics of the song.
The cover art is again by my friend Matthew Cooper, who did the “Elaenia” sleeve and it does feel very much like a sister piece to the 2015 LP.
Sam’s other release this year has been a remix of “Life’s Dancers” by the Invisible. Their album “Patience” has been another 2016 highlight for me. Dave Okumu skilfully put together the Gil Scott Heron tribute gig that I attended in March at the Roundhouse (here).
Patience is a very subtle LP, gossamer light with a Prince or Lewis Taylor sensibility. Released on Ninja Tune, it is an LP that I keep returning to.
Sam’s remix of “Life Dancer’s” is gorgeous, gently stretching the original, with some Chic like string embellishments. He has retained the Invisible’s identity but there is a distinct Floating Points vibe to it.
So in just three songs, Floating Points have maintained the momentum that built in 2015.
Can’t wait to hear what 2017 holds for them.
Another enlightening review, not sure how I missed the 6 Music appearance as I listen every day pretty much!
Thanks for your kind words Ralph. If you haven’t already heard the Floating Points LP, I unreservedly recommend it.