Review Summary: A benchmark for modern electronic music.Crush
is the sound of a rare talent hitting full stride. Sam Shepherd, who studied piano at Chetham's School of Music before attaining a PhD in neuroscience and epigenetics, knows a thing or two about what makes the brain tick. While plenty of electronic music reaches exceptional levels of technicality, what separates Floating Points’ art is how Shepherd takes the inherently detached complexity of his arrangements and transforms it into something lush and intimate. Rather than pushing deadpan beats to their collective limit underneath a digitized sheen, Shepherd – always, but especially on Crush
– aims for the expansive, blending breathtaking, unfurling, and very human
atmospheres with gorgeous pianos, fluttering strings, and burgeoning synth movements. It’s the equivalent of a rippling, crystalline pool on a sweltering summer afternoon – cool, invigorating, and ever-so tempting to dive into.
It’s these same characteristics that lend Crush
a long shelf-life; after all, what is endearing is memorable. Here, Shepherd offers no shortage of moments to embrace: ‘Requiem for CS70 and Strings’ is a beautiful orchestral suite which informs his future 2021 collaboration with Pharoah Sanders, Promises
, while ‘Bias’ grabs you by the hand and pulls you onto the dancefloor. There’s an upbeat, optimistic vibe throughout the entire experience that makes even the subdued cuts feel hopeful, while the most outgoing tracks – like ‘Last Bloom’ – will dare you to get up and move. Accompanied by an artsy, progressive air that exists both in dense concentration (‘Falaise’, ‘Sea-Watch’) and in permeation of Crush
’s whole atmosphere, Shepherd ends up achieving an extraordinary balance between fun, fashionable, and sophisticated. It’s an intoxicating fusion of styles.
’s primary consequence – other than being an excellent case study on best-of-all-worlds electronic music – is ensuring that Floating Points is a name on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Shepherd’s multifaceted skill set is on full display here, from jazzy, forward-thinking progressions to club-ready material. The best part is that Crush
never makes you choose, seamlessly interweaving the elegant and exhilarating. For a journey that is equal parts mesmerizing, distorted, and aquatic, don’t be afraid to take the plunge into Floating Points’ magical aura. It just might change your outlook on electronic music forever.