- After the resounding success of last year's Elaenia (RA's pick for the best album of 2015), Sam Shepherd has taken its blend of jazz and electronica onto the live circuit, performing that delicately detailed music with the gusto expected of a main stage headliner. Some songs are better suited for the transition than others—"Thin Air" wouldn't work so well as "Peroration Six," for instance—but Elaenia's patient pacing makes for useful performative theatrics. Kupier, the first new material after Elaenia, seems to play directly into this dynamic. With one new song and a second rendition of album highlight "For Mamish," the EP quickly forgets about Floating Points the DJ or studio producer. And it's not just the sizable runtimes (18 and 14 minutes) that betray Kupier's intentions—the title track's extended slow build and its counterpart's groovy murmuring might as well be an ad for Floating Points's next show.
"For Mamish II," which is essentially an even more muted take on its softly effervescent predecessor, thrives on the seemingly improvised flourishes Shepherd and his band toss in: a sudden swell of distorted synth, a nearly imperceivable flip of the central Rhodes line. It always sounds like it's about to jump into full stride but remains content to bobble and sway—the kind of tension that lends itself to a good mid-set jam.
"Kuiper," on the other hand, makes its trajectory apparent from the start, amassing kinetic energy and upwards movement from its opening whisper until its rushing crescendo. You might call it a bookend track because of the sweeping movements, but the way Shepherd ends things feels more like the centerpiece of a live show riddled with peaks and valleys. Those closing minutes slip unexpectedly into a psychedelic slow jam that owes more than you'd expect to "Echoes"-era Pink Floyd, including big guitar and string arrangements. "Kuiper" will likely come as a surprise for anyone strictly familiar with the jazzy, understated solo artist Floating Points, but as a snapshot of his explosive live band, it's an appropriate spectacle.
B For Mamish II