Third Album by Markus FloatsRelease date: May 1, 2020
Label: Constellation Records
Cathedrals, shrines, temples, and other places of worship have been increasingly co-opted for musical ventures over the past decade or two so, it stands to reason, that this would further extend to the sounds typically reserved for those spaces too. In keeping with this, Markus Lake – the man behind the Markus Floats moniker who, himself, is no stranger to blurring boundaries & genres, having participated in a broad spectrum of Afrofuturist, punk, post-punk, and experimental outfits over the past decade – has cogently utilised euphoric & exultant organ chords alongside very complimentary strings for his third album, cunningly entitled, Third Album. By harnessing the grandiose nature of religious epiphany, ritual, and submission, he has created something that leaps out into a daring unknown from a potentially staid and stuffy jumping off point.
Where this differs from that sedentary & conservative religious world, however, is the unkempt fun that wriggles throughout the core of this record. It’s utterly infected with the giddiness of pre-school innocence. ‘Forward Always’ is wide-eyed and giggling, it charges around, spilling toys and smearing viscous toast-toppings. The notes tumble like tots. Whilst Floats is keen to underpin these whimsical dalliances with stern drawn out drones, the sense of unhinged delight is almost always there. Tickling at the edges, bubbling underneath. However it manifests, the result is the same: Floats’ inner child is eager to come out and play.
The track titles across Third Album are preoccupied with progress. They speak of endlessly advancing: ‘Forward Again’, ‘Always’, ‘Moving’, ‘Forward Always’. Yet, although those eyes appear to be locked dead ahead with ne’er a backwards glance, there are forebears worth noting. The music on display here is as informed by these artists as much as the past must inform any future. Arpeggiated pulses and excitable key flurries emerge as if from the playbooks of the likes of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, or, more recently, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Even the unadulterated cheer of Plone’s most recent LP seems to be a touchpoint. Opener, ‘Forward’, with it’s bright and impressive organ drones seem to be in the same rich vein as Kali Malone. Then there is ‘Forward Again’ and its exultant sonics that intermingle with recordings which shift from mechanical upset to wolf-like growls in a manner reminiscent of ‘The Caparthians’ by Ben Frost. Then, later, there are shades of Shabazz Palaces’ floatier moments with glances of cosmic light experiencing the Doppler effect as they pass.
That is not to say that this album is incapable of standing on its own two feet. Quite the opposite. The dynamic imagery conjured by Floats’ lively hand warrant deserving attention. There are notes that give the impression of fireflies exploding out of a recently distressed cursed house on the aforementioned track one, its timbers creaking and shifting as life ebbs in via haunted piano stabs. Elsewhere we find chirpy, padding tones that seem to bristle with an infectious joy that lifts ‘Always’ much like a recipient of a recent spiritual episode blistering with delight as they attempt to distill their inner experience into another medium. There is a sense of warmed contentment. The golden certainty that emanates from stomach pits. It sounds like stretching in the sun. Then there are the dance of bleeps that make up ‘And’. Digital sparks & fizzes tumble and spread like time-lapsed footage of the undergrowth growing and burgeoning with life. It calms down to a gentle simmer. Reduced to the low end throb of vitality. A car starts. A cleaver of glinting electronics soars in, both calming & temperate. Soothing trepidation, ironing the sea. Flatten out all of those white peaks. Leave only serenity.
This is an album that focuses the mind, cleanses thoughts and provides space for something greater, something higher to step in. Communicating feeling through fingers and thumbs that can then, hopefully, be translated for third eyes to imagine, expand upon and embrace. In short, it’s like opening yourself up for gentle worship.