Floating Points

Reflections: Mojave Desert

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During a week-long late-summer 2016 break between U.S. dates, Sam Shepherd and his touring Floating Points band -- guitarist Alex Reeve, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Kirkis, drummer Leo Taylor, and bassist Susumu Mukai -- settled into the Mojave Desert. Intended as a rehearsal space, the setting inspired Shepherd and company to write, record, and film this 27-minute suite. A few minutes shorter than the preceding Kuiper, which was billed as an EP, Reflections seems to carry the weight of a proper album while functioning as a soundtrack and whimsical divergence at once. Shepherd's array of keyboards, including a handful of synthesizers, drive the odd-numbered tracks, all three of which are brief, discreet, sketch-like pieces. "Kites" acts as the noodling, swirling intermediary that links "Silurian Blue" and "Kelso Dunes." The former evokes the freer, more rocking side of early-'70s Pink Floyd if they had Kool & the Gang's Ronald Bell sitting in on synthesizer, playing sweeping, almost piercing notes akin to those heard on "Summer Madness." About one-third of the way into its 13 minutes, "Kelso Dunes" achieves liftoff and has more in common with the storming section of "Kuiper." It develops into a psych-prog wig-out that eventually dissipates, then recharges prior to fading out with the sound of desert air and cyclonic synthesizer wisps. Compared to the earlier Floating Points material designed to connect to the head more than the hips, this naturally comes across as underdeveloped, but it's engrossing nonetheless.

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