In a sentence:
Sam Shepherd’s second Floating Points album ‘Crush’ holds a mirror up to society, balancing chaos with beauty.
When Sam Shepherd
released his first Floating Points album Elaenia around four years
ago, some fans felt that the producer was holding something back in comparison
to his rapturously received early work. Compared to those 12” singles and EPs,
the album did indeed feel quite dissolute, even difficult at times, but
audiophiles admired the album for its incredibly detailed production and (admittedly)
objectively beautiful ambience. Elaenia was, however, tantalising in its
beauty rather than overt, a quality that remains the same for Shepherd’s taut sophomore
full-length effort, Crush.
primarily with a Buchla synthesiser and a Rhodes Chroma, and laid down in a
comparatively rushed five-week period after Shepherd spent many months re-programming
the key instruments and coming up with the initial sonic building blocks, Crush’s
central mood is difficult to pin down. Shepherd has spoken of his “sense of
rage” at the “lack of compassion in global politics”, and that feeling is
detectable in the way it frequently oscillates between moments of serene
regularity, expressed in comparatively conventional passages of modern dance
music, and more random moments of unpredictable sonics.
After the fluttering, abstract opener ‘Falaise’, the tone of Crush is properly established with ‘Last Bloom’, a beautiful piece of post-dubstep that makes its impression with light touches. ‘Anasickmodular’, an adaptation of a previous Floating Performance live performance in Holland for Dekmantel a couple of years back, and the subdued house of recent single ‘Les Alpx’ are both comparatively conventional moments, the latter with its bass drops and twinkling flourishes. The gentle ‘Birth’ and the pretty ‘Requiem For CS70 And Strings’ are both beautiful ambient interludes, and on top of the chilled, serene ‘Sea-Watch’ all represent the calm, measured side of Crush’s spirit and of the Floating Points aesthetic.
READ MORE: An Introduction to Warp Records
the record is equally populated by more chaotic – or at least upbeat – moments,
often when Shepherd allows his instrument and equipment to take over. The thumbnail
track ‘Karakul’, for
instance, is essentially the Buchla synth pre-programmed and playing itself, and
the results seem like they’re in a constant state of flux, both building and decaying
simultaneously. That same feeling is present in the glorious mess of ‘Environments’, which veers
between ambient melancholia and random squelches of rave reminiscent of early
Aphex Twin. The frenetic, deconstructed hybrid of IDM and conventional house on
‘Bias’ is a clear future
crowd-pleaser in live sets. The controlled duo of tracks titled ‘Apoptase’ – the second a dubbier, cloudier version
of the first – that close out the album seem to resolve these two tendencies,
ending Crush in a satisfying way.
While it doesn’t
necessarily showcase Shepherd’s very finest work as Floating Points, which
still seems to be the exclusive preserve of his 12” singles and EP work that
allows him to stretch out over a wider canvas, Crush is at least another
eminently solid and rewarding addition to his discography. (7/10) (Ed Biggs)
Listen to Crush by Floating Points here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Crush, Floating Points, Ninja Tune, review, Sam Shepherd
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