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First Watch: Floating Points, 'Silurian Blue'


Floating Points, in a still from <em>Reflections — Mojave Desert</em>.
Courtesy of the artist
Floating Points, in a still from Reflections — Mojave Desert.

Last August Sam Sheperd, the producer, composer and DJ known as Floating Points, took his band to a spartan house in the Martian-ish beauty of the Mojave Desert with the intention of rehearsing, recording and filming a couple ideas he had been working for his increasingly exploratory and improvisational project. What Sheperd and his collaborators found, instead of quietude, was an environment thrumming with its own contributions.

"There's such an interesting sonic environment," Sheperd told NPR. "Such a beautiful environment." With their touring gear already on site, they invited and nourished that environment into the work, setting up microphones throughout, "half a mile away," from their film set, incorporating the birds, the wind and the locomotion of the desert's brush. They saw they could "turn this into something where we start exploring the space, sonically and visually." The result is Reflections — Mojave Desert, a 26-minute piece of both mesmeric music and a sharply, unadorned film documentation of Shepard and his band performing an arcing whole inset from a rock formation like foam, as the day slowly fades to night.

Today NPR Music is premiering the first of five sections from the piece, the beautiful, psych-prog meditation "Silurian Blue." (You'll have to wait to see Sheperd comically wandering among the sand and rock like "this '90s cartoon character" he couldn't recall the name of, whipping a parabolic mic from side-to-side.)

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Reflections — Mojave Desert will be released by Luaka Bop on June 30.

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