Floating Points – a.k.a. Sam Shepherd – today announces his debut album Elaenia, out November 6th via Luaka Bop (US)/ Pluto (UK). With today’s announcement he shares a new video “Silhouettes,” which features music from the eleven-minute album track “Silhouettes (I, II & III).”
Shot on location in Rio Tinto – a corner of the Spanish and Portuguese border deemed the closest thing to Mars on Earth – as well as in the studio in Barcelona over a period of six months, the ‘Silhouettes’ clip was directed by Junior Martínez and Pablo Barquín.
“We’ve all been friends for a long time, and I was always hanging around their studio in Barcelona,” Shepherd says. “When he [Barquín] invented a light painting machine, the idea to do a music video came about very quickly. We wanted to juxtapose the light painting in an exotic environment and this lead us to Rio Tinto.”
Elaenia is a dazzling score which puts Shepherd in the spotlight as a composer who has produced an album that bridges the gap between his rapturous dance music and formative classical roots that draws upon everything Shepherd has done to date. Growing up in Manchester – he started out as a chorister at an early age – Shepherd eventually arrived in London for university, where he spent the next five years engineering Elaenia, all the while DJing in cities across the globe and working towards his PhD in neuroscience. An album that draws inspiration from classical, jazz, electronic music, soul and even Brazilian popular music, Elaenia – named after the bird of the same name – is the epitome of the forward-thinking Floating Points vision in 2015.
Musically, the mesmerising ebbs and flows of Elaenia span moments of light and dark; rigidity and freedom; elegance and chaos. The lush, euphoric enlightenment of ‘Silhouettes (I, II & III)’ – a three-part composition that acts as a testament to those early days Shepherd spent playing in various ensembles, complete with an immensely tight rhythm section that ends up providing a cathartic, blissful release. Elsewhere, Shepherd’s knack for masterful late night sets bare fruition to the hypnotic, electronic pulse of ‘Argenté’, which leads into final track ‘Peroration Six’ – a track with one of the biggest tension-and-release moments in music this year.
Shepherd – the ensemblist, the producer and scientist – even built a harmonograph from scratch to create the artwork for Elaenia, the end result created by using it and 2 fibre optic cables of 0.5 and 1.5mm diameters, which were connected to light sources responding to bass drum and white noise percussive sounds from the album track ‘For Marmish’.
Like his contemporaries Caribou and Four Tet, Shepherd has nurtured the Floating Points name into one renowned for ambitious and forward-thinking DJ sets, having performed all over the world at events and clubs such as Output NYC, Trouw, Sonar, Unit in Tokyo, Panorama Bar and, of course, Nuits Sonores (which lent its name to his seminal track from summer 2014) as well as the much missed Plastic People, where he held a residency for five years. Elaenia also features a huge variety of contributors, including drums from Tom Skinner and Leo Taylor plus vocals from Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne, Layla Rutherfordand Shepherd himself. Elsewhere there’s Susumu Mukai taking up bass, Qian Wu and Edward Benton sporting violins, Matthew Kettle on the viola, Alex Reeve on guitar and Joe Zeitlin on the cello.
Floating Points will debut the live version ‘Silhouettes (I, II & III)’ at Dimensions Festival in Croatia tomorrow (Wednesday, August 26th) where he will perform at the opening concert at the magnificent Fort Christo Punto, with an 11-piece orchestra. The show will be streamed live via Boiler Room from 2.30pm EST (8:30pm CET, show 9pm).
Elaenia will be released on LP, CD and digital download. All pre-orders of Elaenia via the Floating Points store will receive ‘Silhouettes (I, II & III)’ instantly, and the first 200 orders will receive a print of the album artwork created by the harmonograph built by Sam himself. The album can also be pre-ordered at Rough Trade and iTunes.