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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 02:38

Floating Points - Reflections, Mojave Desert

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Field day with Floating Points.

Last summer’s Kuiper EP lit up the lights brightly on the KOJ pinball machine with its sly meld of prog, jazz and electronics.  Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, current well realized album makes plain he is not a musician who sits in the same creative place nor physical space for long.  

In August 2016 Shepherd and band members decamped to the Mojave Desert to rehearse for their next American tour. Whilst visiting the Joshua Tree National Park that they were inspired by the geographic beauty and natural sounds created by the rock formations to record an album on location and make short film to accompany the venture.

The first fruit of their labours to be picked is that Floating Points have made natural progression from solo musician with accompaniment to fully fledged working band.

The title track opens up the album and settles the under the desert sky mood swiftly with its nodules of bell like percussion, warm keyboard brushstrokes and the trill of sandy breezes.  Silurian Blue stirs the mixture further until Matthew Kirkus’s guitar bobs and weaves into pole position anchoring a warm hazy space jam.

Textured oscillating keyboards straddle Kites before segueing into the albums centre piece, Kelso Dunes. At nearly eleven minutes, it’s the albums force majure. An insistent motortronik groove accessorised and washed in flushed keyboards and glowing guitar recalling Pink Floyd’s More soundtrack in particular. Lucerene Valley is the closer with a woozy slow motion melody ruffled by the Mojave breeze.

Mojave Desert has no fat, coming in at a just under thirty minutes duration. It’s really as long as it needs to be. There is an unruffled synchronicity between the field sounds, and the warming spatial grooves and ambiences. It makes me want to see them live. Director Ana Diaz Ortuno's film of the bands performance in situ is very well crafted though at times seemingly a homage to Floyd's Live at Pompeii.  What however stays is the music which reveals more traces and cadences on each new  listening.

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