Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra have released their new album Promises. Going into this, I didn’t know much about it, so when putting it on, I just let it go and didn’t realize I was half way through as it flows continuously without pause from one track to the next.
Somehow, this record has been kept a secret for five years up until a little over a month ago, when it was announced. It has been five years in the making with Floating Points, aka Sam Shepherd, composing the record. Shepherd and Sanders recorded the album together in Los Angeles in 2019. Shepherd wrote and arranged the score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, which was recorded at AIR Studios in London in the summer of 2020.
The album is not an over the top dance record, a pretentious classical piece or in your face jazz piece, but rather quite muted. It is more like a small, intimate performance in your living room if you lived in a log cabin with the lights dimmed low as a fire burns in the background and a few members of The London Symphony Orchestra sit in on strings.
There is a piano refrain that is repeated and woven throughout the record to give it a connective tissue that holds this record together. It is slightly altered, but you will hear it on “Movement 1” and then again at the beginning of “Movement 2” all the way to “Movement 8” and sprinkled in between.
All three parties share the spotlight equally throughout the album, but there are moments when each one steps their foot out to shine a little brighter. “Movement 6” is when the orchestra really sparkles with a melancholic, yet beautiful string arrangement. “Movement 3” is a softer examination of Floating Points’ piano to mellow out the album in between more saxophone from Sanders on “Movement 4” plus some rare vocal in the form of humming.
All of the pieces on this album fit together so impeccably well. Jazz saxophone, classical music and a DJ & producer turned composer maybe on paper might not mix that well, but this is as seamless as anything musically. Promises is cozy, beautiful and effortless. As a continuous piece of music, it is transformative and transports you to somewhere well beyond the pains of today, even just for 46 minutes. This is one of those special records that we will hear through the end of this year.
Listen to the album now and get your copy here.