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Elaenia

Since 2009’s club anthem 'Vacuum Boogie', most likely the entry point for many Floating Points fans, Sam Shepherd’s musical horizons have been expanding. In addition to tracks in the same vein as the aforementioned, subsequent releases have included longer, more complex compositions often passing the ten-minute mark, those that tend towards the more ambient side of sonic experimentation, and those that incorporate the use of live musicians. It therefore follows that these threads be consolidated on Shepherd’s debut album, Elaenia.

'Argenté', 'Thin Air'and the glowing title track demonstrate Shepherd’s proclivity for minimalist arrangements, the former pair acting as musical counterparts based around a series of trembling arpeggios. Similarly, opener 'Nespole' features a core of playful synths, supplemented with other elements in progressive vitality. 'Elaenia', by contrast, starts life as a swell of ambient noise before transfiguring into a warm, Rhodes-powered lullaby, providing a moment of respite after the ten-minute 'Silhouettes (Parts I, II & III)'.

This, along with 'ForMarmish'and 'Peroration Six', further sharpen Shepherd’s talent for composing and arranging, prefigured in the Floating Points Ensembleand 2013’s Wires. Where 'Silhouettes'and 'Peroration Six' are energetic, 'For Marmish'keeps the dreamy pace of the title track, again centred on the graceful jazz licks of Shepherd’s Rhodes.

For all the similarities to earlier Floating Points releases, the distinct lack of any club-oriented tracks on Elaeniais palpable but in no way disappointing. Despite a consistent run of floor-fillers over the past five years or so, Shepherd has been honing a more erudite side, rather more removed from the DJ booth. Elaenia represents a step along the way of this process and we can expect more in the years to come.

Aidan Daly

by Now Then Manchester