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Floating Points ‘Elaenia’ – Album Review

Luaka Bop (2015)

Nicknamed the techno Einstein, neuroscience graduate-turned-DJ Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, has taken almost as long to produce his debut album, Elaenia, as the legendary physicist did the theory of relativity.

Indeed, it’s been seven years and over a dozen E.P.s and singles since the Londoner first began to stake his claim as one of ambient electronica’s most intriguing young composers, meaning that this eight-track collection arrives with a certain weight of expectation.

Thankfully, Floating Points appears to have spent his time experimenting in the studio wisely, with Elaenia – named after a poetic dream the 29-year-old had about a bird trapped in a forest – proving to be a masterclass in genre-hopping.

With their hypnotic and interweaving synth patterns, opener “Nespole” and “Argente” both invite listeners onto the dancefloor without providing anything in the way of beats, while the slow-building trance of “Thin Air” and the dreamlike drones of the title track also justify Shepherd’s status as an electronic genius.

But it’s the more expansive numbers, recorded with a supergroup including various members of Hot Chip, Zongamin and Hejira, which prove that Floating Points’ sonic ambitions match those of regular collaborators Four Tet and Caribou.

The eleven-minute “Silhouettes (I, II & III)” is a perfectly executed three-part suite which flits easily between skittering jazz-soul and graceful neo-classical, while closer “Peroration Six” is an absorbing and increasingly intense piece of psychedelic post-rock which evokes Kid A-era Radiohead.

Designed to be listened to as one entire piece, the immersive and consistently majestic Elaenia certainly contains enough twists and turns to hold the attention throughout its 40-minute running time. Let’s just hope that Floating Points doesn’t take as long following it up.

4.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured


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