Review Summary: Maybe inbreeding isn't so bad...
It has been well documented over the last couple of years that Australia’s alternative rock scene has indeed suffered a substantial degree of what could very easily be called inbreeding. So much so that it is increasingly hard to find bands that are standing out from the rest and writing somewhat original music. The latest product of musical inbreeding is quintet Floating Me, featuring members from Karnviool, Cog and Scarymother. Given the pedigree on display, it is immediately obvious Floating Me aren’t your average boring Australian prog band. In actual fact, Floating Me’s self-titled debut easily holds its own against any Australian rock albums released in recent times.
As a collective, despite the names behind the music, Floating Me manage to move off in a mostly different tangent to the various members’ previous previous work. While still maintaining the somewhat tradition hard rock sound, instead of focusing on hooks and huge choruses, Floating Me instead create an atmosphere that manages to be both tense and beautiful at the same time. That is where this band’s strength truly lies, their ability to use atmosphere and subtly change the dynamics of the music only helps them stand out from the slather of bands attempting this genre.
Vocalist Andrew Gillespie’s commanding baritone, a mix of Jeff Martin and Nick Cave, is one of Floating Me’s strong points. Gillespie demands attention, with the band’s ridiculously tense atmosphere forming the perfect background for his dark lyrics. Despite the power of his voice, Gillespie is noticeably careful in his delivery, ensuring he doesn’t overshadow the rest of the band, often taking a back seat and treating his voice as just another instrument. ‘Bezhumous’ and ‘Short Cuts to Feeling’ are perfect examples of this, with the keys of Tobias Messeiter and Antony Brown’s guitar taking more of a lead role. Conversely, the band also move in the other direction here and there, with cuts such as the album’s lead single ‘Sugar’ and the somewhat softer ‘Piano.’
Given Floating Me possess what is arguably the best rhythm section in Australia Jon Stockman (Karnivool) on bass and Lucius Borich (Cog) on drums, it is immediately clear that it is one of the band’s strengths. The underlying tribal feel of their debut only accentuates this, with tracks such as ‘Deathless’ and ‘Bezhumous’ featuring impressive drumming by Borich. Similarly, Stockman’s trademark rumbling bass is excellent throughout, particularly on ‘Breaking to Breath’ and epic closer ‘Across the Gulf.’
Whether it is the sheer talent of the band members or their years of experience that has made Floating Me an instant success, it is hard to tell. Regardless, as if appearing from nowhere, Floating Me have crafted what is an outstanding debut. The tense atmosphere found on the record does indeed result in quite a hard listen at first, however it is definitely a grower. What Floating Me have managed to do is avoid the ‘dreaded’ supergroup syndrome, instead creating an outstanding piece of atmospheric rock and doing their part to silence the supergroup naysayers in the process.