Reflections – Mojave Desert
Floating Points’ forthcoming short film and soundtrack – ‘Reflections – Mojave Desert’ – finds Sam Shepherd and his band in a thrilling sonic exploration of environment under an endless desert sky. It is the first in a planned series of environmental recordings by Floating Points to be filmed and recorded at different locations around the world. ‘Reflections – Mojave Desert’ was made last year, as Floating Points traveled to the Mojave to rehearse in between US touring. Immediately struck by the distinct sonic tapestry created by the rock formations and valleys, they set up a recording operation and filmed this new work at the base of the natural sculptures they encountered. The music of ‘Reflections’ mirrors the landscape: soaring and vast, dynamic and intimate, centered around two longer works and shorter pieces that create an immersive and seamless 27-minute experience.
‘Reflections’ begins with chords played on a Rhodes Chroma and recorded with a surround sound microphone. Throughout the filming, microphones were placed throughout the landscape to capture the natural sonic textures of the desert: the undulating sound of wind, a bird call, the rustling of bushes and more created a backdrop on which much of the record rests. The music softly shifts from the Fender Rhodes introduction to “Silurian Blue,” an expansive improvised full band piece that balances refined restraint with explosiveness. In one scene, “Kites,” Floating Points aka Sam Shepherd walks through a valley with a super directional microphone, swinging it back and forth as a synthesizer loop gets faster to showcase the natural reverb and shifting phase of sound waves. “Kelso Dunes” signals the film’s final act: the sky grows dark, lasers flash, the band and rocks gleaming in the pitch black around them.
“Whilst we were out playing and exploring the area around us – the sound reflecting from the rocks, the sound of the wind between them, complete stillness at night and packs of roaming coyotes in the distance, It became apparent that we could use this as its own unique recording environment.
The project started simply because we were on tour with the band, had just finished FYF fest in LA, and had a week before picking up the rest of the tour in phoenix. on the way we stopped for a week near Joshua Tree National Park. the idea was to go somewhere fairly remote and setup to rehearse. it was peak summer, so we setup outside and would be playing throughout the day and night. (see super 8 footage). Whilst we were out playing and exploring the area around us – the sound reflecting from the rocks, the sound of the wind between them, complete stillness at night and packs of roaming coyotes in the distance, It became apparent that we could use this as its own unique recording environment.
Anna in our crew creates the projections for our live show, but is predominantly a film maker. We made a few calls to friends in LA and borrowed some film/sound gear and recorded some of the new music that came out of the rehearsals.
Through the process of making this record, we decided to start a series of musical & video explorations in interesting locations, where the music is a function of its surroundings. This first experiment only marks the beginning in this idea, and am currently seeking new interesting acoustic environments to explore.” – Sam Shepherd, Floating Points