Music and science in harmony

Are links evident between Floating Points’ neuroscience background and his album Elaenia?

There have long been links between music and science, from studies of acoustics at the University of Cambridge in 1873 to keyboard-playing Professor Brian Cox, but London-based producer and University of London neuroscience PhD Floating Points is no D:Ream.
His debut LP, Elaenia, has just been released on the back of a progression of sparkling singles and EPs and offers a journey through swirling dark jazz reminiscent of the late night paths a mind can follow but also shares calmer, more meditative moments. Composed mainly of strings, piano, drums, synths and wordless backing vocals it could be described as ‘electronica’ but is far from medicalised or reductive. His live shows with an 11 piece band offer an immersive set full of tension, expression and waves of emotion reflecting all aspects of human experience – hard to quantify but instantly recognisable in our response to art.
As someone intrigued by the beauty and power of the brain, Elaenia’s detailed rhythms and patterns can appeal to the intellectual side and lead us to admire how complex layers have been interleaved with delicacy and precision. But although structured connections underpin what we hear, in their combination they produce something intangible, far greater than the wiring that produces it, something more akin to spirituality.
Standout tracks from the concise seven presented are Nespole, Silhouettes (I, II & III) and For Marmish but the whole piece flows seductively from moment to moment with such subtlety that it could be a continuous mix.
In a recent interview Floating Points himself suggests that rather than force parallels, music and science can exist exclusively but also harmoniously. Elaenia perfectly demonstrates the carefully balanced blend of system and creative freedom essential for the most uplifting of music.

- Elaenia was released 6 November on Pluto. There are live shows at the Brixton Electric in February 2016.
Reviewed by Dr Laura Meldrum-Carter, Chartered Educational Psychologist.
We are always interested in reviews of music where there is a connection between psychology and the artist, approach or subject matter. For example, read Tom Dickins on Damon Albarn's 'Everyday robots'. Tweet us your suggestions. 

 

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