Floating Points

Floating Points


It’s been a long time coming, but Mancunian Sam Shepherd’s debut album Elaenia was certainly worth the wait. After releasing a string of outstanding DJ friendly EP’s and singles, since 2009, we’re finally able to immerse ourselves in a long player that ebbs and flows from danceable bloops and bleeps, to jazz infused sonic experimentation, and chilled-out vibes. Understandably, the bouncy dance floor of The Ritz is full to capacity tonight, attracting fans of all ages. Sam has clearly broken through, with surgical timing, into the mainstream.

The welcome sight of two guitarists and a live drummer accompany Sam onstage. My issue with acts such as Flying Lotus is that the ‘live’ tour pretty much consists of them DJing their own tunes on a laptop. It’s not long after a delayed start that the drummer launches into a thrilling solo, followed by a solo from Sam himself, on the keys – showcasing their skills working the crowd. Lasers scorch geometrical images on a round surface at the back of the stage, which glows for a while, where the concentrated light beams have been. The crowd spontaneously cheer when it’s first fired up, and watch mesmerised as it etches intricate spirograph style images on the back wall. Amon Tobin, on a budget.

‘Nespole’ and ‘Silhouettes’ ease us into things. Backing singers and strings would enhance the experience further, but we shouldn’t push our luck. Moody jazz infused Drum and Bass from the early 90’s springs to mind… I was deep into that genre back in the day, and this brings a warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia. In contrast, touches of Jon Hopkins and even The Chemical Brothers are apparent, as the instruments and synth sounds build to heady crescendos.

The bloopy and beat-less beginnings of ‘Argenté’ draw us into a warm, closed-eyes trance. A possible Pink Floyd influence is evident during guitar and further keys solo’s. The band demonstrate how tight they are by punctuating the soundscape that they have carefully constructed with perfect silence, for a few beats. When the drummer gets going, the heads start bobbing and swaying, on the verge of dancing. Outstanding earlier work such as ‘Vacuum Boogie’, ‘Peoples Potential’ and ‘Nuits Sonores’ would’ve, without a doubt, turned this into a hedonistic clubbing experience, fit for any arena.

My only gripe from tonight is that the set was a little too short. His album material was superbly recreated, and the light show complimented the music perfectly, but I, along with others (you could just tell) were itching to move a little more. If the back catalogue could be recreated with this live set up, tonight could’ve become a more rounded and satisfying experience. As it is, it has left us undoubtably impressed, but wanting more and then a little extra.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.