“I have a sense of rage, and at times, that’s coming out in this record,” Sam Shepherd tells Apple Music of his second full-length album as Floating Points. “If I was making a vocal-led album, that would be in the lyrics, but I’m not, so I’m letting these instruments speak on my behalf.” And speak they do. Recorded in a frantic five-week period following months of mastering and reprogramming key instruments used on the album—including a pioneering Buchla synth and a Rhodes Chroma—Crush is taut and brooding but delicate and often beautiful, too. Enraged by “a lack of compassion in global politics, deforestation, and Michael ‘we’ve had enough of experts’ Gove,” the Manchester producer and neuroscientist has created an album that demonstrates his expert handle on the dynamics of tension and release and reflects the strained times we’re living in. Apple Music caught up with Shepherd to get the story behind each track. Falaise “I was using this Buchla modular synth system on a daily basis and thought it would be interesting if I used a fully formed string section as the basis of the oscillator and then put that through the Buchla. I made some demos of this but didn’t really do anything with them. Then I heard a record called ‘Sonali’ by [US electronic music composer] Carl Stone that chopped up an opera record, and that pushed me to finish it. It’s an exploration of using an acoustic ensemble as the oscillator.” Last Bloom “This is the first track I finished where I thought, ‘This is the aesthetic I’m going for on this record.’ A friend gave me a MAM drum machine and I combined that with the Buchla, and that found its way all over this record. I played it to a few friends like Kieran [Hebden, UK electronic artist Four Tet] and Dan [Snaith, Canadian electronic artist Caribou] and they were like, ‘Yeah, you’re on to something here.’ It’s really nice to have friends who listen to your stuff and can help kick you into gear.” Anasickmodular “When I was doing the live shows, we did one at Dekmantel in Amsterdam in 2017, where I went completely left of everything we were doing and improvised a lot of it. I leave space in the show to do that a lot. Anyway, my sound engineer always records everything, and later we were in Australia for a tour and I had the Buchla system out and started chopping up the audio from that Dekmantel show. It bloomed into this track, and ‘Anasickmodular’ was a working title that never changed.” Requiem for CS70 and Strings “This is a very humble track that’s like a slow, airy waltz. I wrote it on a Yamaha CS70 analog synthesizer which has some beautiful string settings, because you can change the pitch of the oscillators not just by an octave, but an octave and a fifth. That has a very nice harmonic effect. I wanted the strings to be welded with the sound of the CS70 so they’re quiet in the mix. Then when I change the pitch of the CS70, the strings shine through.” Karakul “I spend hours every day with the Buchla system, and the nice thing about it is you can set presets. As long as the patch cables are in the same place and all the knobs are on, the thing can actually move into different positions. And with a pulse voltage you can sit back and let the Buchla play itself. So it’s basically an excerpt of the madness the Buchla can get up to left to its own devices, when it’s been programmed to within an inch of its life.” LesAlpx “My partner’s got a little place out in the Alps in the middle of nowhere. We go over in winter sometimes to hang out on the side of the mountain, and I usually take a little synth with me. This was made with a little portable suitcase bass synthesizer called an EMS Synthi AKS. It’s nice to be more limited with the equipment you’re using sometimes, and I kind of made the whole album like that. My studio’s so full of stuff it’s overwhelming sometimes. This tune is very basic. It’s like a giant bass drop and that’s all that happens.” Bias “I made this beat on an ADX1 MAM, and I must say, in my humble opinion I think this beat is sick. There are 51 knobs on it, and you can just tweak it into oblivion to make all sorts of drum sounds, and by chance I got this one. I can’t recreate it for the life of me! I’ve put crashing cymbals on top and then played the Rhodes Chroma over it. In fact, from here in the album is mainly drum machine, set up a beat, play piano over the top of it.” Environments “This is quite a melancholic track that just turns into an absolutely disastrous rave thing in the end. It gets more and more unhinged. At the time I made it, all these Brexit debates were happening and I just thought no one was talking any sense. It feels like the long-distant past now, as every day more madness seems to be going on.” Birth “A more hopeful song, as it’s made for the birth of a friend’s baby. I wrote this on the Chroma too. It’s got this sort of detuned oscillator. I’ve played it to the baby in question, but they were pretty nonplussed.” Sea-Watch “There was a story in the paper about Carola Rackete from Sea-Watch, who sailed around the Mediterranean rescuing refugees from places like Syria who were traveling in dinghies. She met a huge media storm as she got incarcerated for docking illegally in Italy. I think she’s a humanitarian hero, and she inspired this song. We shouldn’t need individuals who have to go out and do this sort of thing.” Apoptose, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 “This is one track, but it made sense to me to split it into two parts. Again, it’s a very simple track using the MAM and the Buchla, with the Chroma over the top. It’s a very simple melody that develops, and then as it goes to part two, it falls apart and purely goes into the Buchla and the drum machine. Part two’s kind of like a different interpretation of the same thing. Almost like a dub.”

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