After releasing his swirling debut collection ‘Elaenia’ in 2015, Floating Points, aka Sam Shepherd, quickly ascended to the top of UK electronic music’s pile. He then went off to go record a one-off performance in the desert for a bit (as you do), 2017’s ‘Reflections - Mojave Desert’, applying sand-blasted guitars to a motorik pulse. He’s now come full circle with the release of ‘Crush’, managing to combine the delicate electronics of ‘Elaenia’ with the heft of ‘Reflections…’.
Lead single “LesAlpx” is case in point: spiralling synths are paired with a rumbling bass line that buzzes through the track. It’s a head-rush of a tune and it feels more thrillingly spontaneous than anything he has crafted before. Following track ‘Bias’ steps up the thrill level once more, finding Sam interpolating a rollicking garage beat into his distinct world and detonating it halfway through the track for maximum effect.
This isn’t to say moments of beauty have been left by the wayside. Opener ‘Falaise’ is stunning. The sweeping strings provide a distinctly human touch to the stuttering synths: it’s a gloriously pretty curtain raiser. ‘Sea-Watch’ is another moment wonder, finding him creating a tranquil space of pianos and lush strings.
On ‘Elaenia’, these moments were allowed to meander, sometimes overstaying their welcome but everything on ‘Crush’ has a pleasing immediacy to it - making Sam’s brew much more potent. ‘Environments’ finds him splitting apart the atoms of a skittering beat- pulling it apart across the track. If this was to go on any longer than its four minutes, it would feel like a feat of needless boffinery, a tad “look Mum no hands”, but in its short burst it is totally exhilarating.
Put simply, ‘Crush’ is a triumph: the ideal meeting of brains and brawn over a journey that manages to feel both concise and exploratory.
They’ll be playing in London’s Brockwell Park on Saturday 28th May.
The biggest and best of the week’s new releases.
It follows his return with ‘Vocoder’ last month.
It follows last year’s ‘Promises’ album with Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra.