Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, always does things properly. Elaenia was six years in the making but was well worth the wait, claiming our album of 2015. The label he co-runs, Eglo Records, is home to a handpicked selection of artists where the term “quality over quantity” certainly applies. He even holds a PhD in neuroscience, considered the highest level of degree available. So when the Mancunian arrived onstage back by an 11- piece orchestra, you felt once again he had found the formula for success.
Electric Brixton is a venue oozing with character and charm, featuring a mezzanine gallery overlooking the main stage and classic décor acting as a reminder of its 100-plus year history. First to grace the stage was support act Hejira, a cerebral seven-piece band signed to Eglo, who sound a bit like an even sleepier version of The xx. There were some compelling harmonies between the two singers, but the performance went mostly overlooked by the sparsely populated crowd. By the time Floating Points walked on however, Electric Brixton was occupied high and low.
The opening chords of ‘Silhouettes (I, II & III)’ cut through the silence as Shepherd and his army began to fuse electronica, classical and jazz into one magnificent symphony. Pulsating effects shimmered around elegant string arrangements, as breathtaking solos from the drummer and saxophonist were met with cheers of approval. It was these improvised moments that really brought the album to life, testament to the skill of the musicians appointed by Shepherd.
The show was also a delight visually, with swirling, astral effects akin to Elaenia’s cover hypnotising the audience. This was particularly effective for tender trance-inducing number ‘Argent’, with the gentle electronic murmurs building momentum alongside the colourful light show in perfect synchronisation.
At times the performance did border on the edge of being too mesmerising. Moments of such extreme minimalism made Eno’s ‘Music For Airport’s’ feel like ‘Pon De Floor’ in comparison. But in these instants there was beauty, with intrinsic breakdowns reminding us the album captured our hearts with its subtleties, not its drops.
Much like his music, Shepherd himself was not one for words, and as the grand encore of rampant nu-classical subsided, he briefly stood up, thanked the crowd and sauntered off stage. Once again the producer had delivered, something that spoke for itself.