RFS Profiles: Floating Points

Sam Shepherd, Image Courtesy of Pitchfork

We’re back again with another edition of Red Filter Sounds Profiles series. This week, we will be taking a look at Floating Points, also known as Sam Shepherd.

Shepherd has been working as a DJ for many years now, and has released numerous tracks and EPs under his moniker Floating Points. But it wasn’t until last year that he released his first LP, Elaenia. One of the best electronic albums of the year, Elaenia was a welcoming organic record that was easy to explore, get lost in, and wholeheartedly embrace.

When looking back at his previous works, the underlying forms and logic behind Shepherd’s process are consistent. He has refined his style, but Shepherd, by and large, simply expanded on the foundation he lay in the past.

Unlike many electronic artists, who tend to built a structured rhythm and layer on beeps and boops and trills, Shepherd seems to approach his compositions with the methodology of a free form jazz musician. He has credited new wave band Talk Talk as an influence, but it’s much more than traditional synthesis. It’s avant-garde, funk, and R&B. It can be raw then orchestral. Shepherd will drive your feet to the dance floor on one tune then take your mind to pensively travel through ethereal space. It’s enthralling.

Now Shepherd has a challenge ahead of him. Music wasn’t his first plan. Rather, it was neuroscience, where he carries a Ph.D. But in 2008, Shepherd successfully released a handful of singles and a bootleg of “I’ll Wait for You,” by Sun Ra. Radio DJs like what they heard and shared Shepherd’s work with the masses. Soon he was collaborating with other composers such as DJ Alexander Nut and Fatima.

So what will Shepherd do? Will he continue his ascent as one of the most intellectual composers of music today? Or will he use his own vast intellect to quite literally touch the minds of patients in the UK. Hopefully, he’ll find time for both.

Be sure to check out the music video for Floating Points’ song Silhouettes.


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