They Entered in darkness and quietly warbled their sound in, the first few minutes. Then, the crowd Oooo and Ahhh’d when the visuals came on screen — a projection of laser-like lights drawing geometric shapes. (A digital “spirograph” if you recall your 1990s toys.) Easily one the most satisfying light shows put off in a small club show.
Floating Points headlined Saturday night at the Mohawk, part of a string of the bar’s 10th Anniversary shows.
Floating Points is the project of Sam Shepherd, a DJ from manchester, UK, who, like Canada’s Caribou, also happens to study neuroscience. He’s worked with Four Tet, among other electronic acts. Shepherd’s music is propulsive, head nodding and rhythmic. It’s oddly ideal music to play while working; quirky but not boring. Typically it’s all-instrumental, no vocals. Droning, but unafraid of silence.
On stage in a full five piece band, with drums, bass and guitar, the band at this juncture feels like some unlikely descendant of “Kid A” era Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Medeski, Martin & Wood.
The sheer array of bleeps, blurps, churnings, sputterings and whirrings is impressive. Synching up brilliantly with the laser light show.
There were stretches of desert somewhere in the middle of the set — dry patches of dullness that were neither here nor there. But a show about waves of energy must have lows to hit the highs; there must be contrast.
The band felt clean and almost restrained in their discipline. There were no strings, but fragile rifts from guitar and bass flowed gorgeously next to Shepherd’s Rhodes synthesizer (among unknowable other processors and setups). Drumming was especially tidy and tight.
Despite the light show’s effects growing a little tiring as the show progressed, Floating Points maintained an impressive energy, a very different energy from the one on records. Far from simply reproducing their delicate sound, the live ensemble juiced things up. It was more of everything.
Floating Points are remarkably dedicated to a groove, and resistant to melody. Still, their show Saturday might have benefited from a shift in gears, maybe a little hint of the band’s gentler, jazzy side, or the variety of older material.
The band hit the city’s midnight curfew hard. The projection froze in place. “We’re..we’re not allowed to carry on,” said the bespectacled Shepherd. “This is probably the weirdest ending we’ve ever had.”
The crowd could definitely have floated onwards.