Pluto – out now
Sometimes you get the impression that an artist is just showing off. Listening to the new Floating Points record with the press release in front of you is certainly one of those moments, and it does nothing for your self-esteem. Neuroscientist, DJ and multi-instrumentalist Sam Shepherd finally releases his five-years-in-the-making opus Elaenia, and it doesn’t disappoint. The shift from laptop to expansive instrumental sound is at first subtle; opening track ‘Nespole’ sprouts from sparse beginnings, but before you know it you’re in an epic ten-minute experimental jazz piece called ‘Silhouettes I, II & III’. Marimba notes dance over a krautrock rhythm section before the layers build seamlessly into Miles Davis’ futuristic dream-vision. By the time the full-on string section waltzes in it’s clear that this is an album with grand pretensions, aiming at something profound and aspirational: a soundtrack for human achievement. In both the title track and ‘Thin Air’ there is a stillness and compression as if this is actually sound art; a totally cerebral cosmic mash of electronic music devouring its classical predecessors to give a beautiful, monochrome future. While you probably need to be a jazz aficionado to identity many of the influences churned up in Floating Points’ cogs, you don’t have to be to enjoy the end product. Shepherd has produced a sort of time capsule obituary and poured every one of his considerable talents into it.