Once a symbol of the Vertigo label's adventurism, Jade Warrior's lack of sales led to their dismissal in 1972, which inevitably resulted in the band's disintegration. However, the Warrior's multi-instrumentalists, Jon Field and Tony Duhig, soldiered on at the urging of Steve Winwood, whose enthusiastic support of the diminished Warrior secured the duo a deal with his label, Island. Floating World was the new-look Jade's debut, a concept album themed around the Japanese philosophy of Ukiyo, with the songs revolving around two interrelated series of compositions. It's a complex set, and helpfully this reissue's excellent sleeve notes assist in making sense of it. The compositions may be interlaced, but the album itself is as diverse as any previous Jade offering. The opening "Clouds," for example, juxtaposes an ethereal girls choir, tinkling wind chimes, glowing ambient passages, and incendiary guitar licks. "Red Lotus" is even more musically aggressive, wherein metal smashes into Far East gongs, until abruptly the piece succumbs to the charms of a bright flute. "Monkey Chant"'s guitar solo pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix, and is interspersed by surging vocal chants. "Mountain of Fruit and Flowers" could have come straight from a Hollywood epic soundtrack, except that it keeps sliding into jazz, and is in fact a variation on Jade's "On the Mountain of Fruit" from their Fifth Element album, while other songs shimmer and shine in dreamy luminescence. It's this sheer diversity of sounds and moods, the constant clash or gentle intermingling of Eastern and Western styles, and the set's glittering atmospheres that made Floating World an undeniable masterpiece.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene