Max Richter has a philosophy of composing music to think in. This approach couldn’t be more apt a philosophy for this collaboration. Floating Points with his unique balance of space and texture is never in a rush, commanding the London Symphony Orchestra with his washes of strings like an extension of his arsenal, always following and guiding the movements at a respectful distance from Pharaoh Saunders timeless tenor saxophone voice.
There is some feeling of solitude in this sonic journey. It holds space for one to introspect, be oneself and return to the self with a sense of compassion and empathy. The essence of the practice of holding space can be felt in Pharoah’s nearness, narrating the immensity of the sonic universe proposed, minimalism for the space to exist, breath, reflect, get lost in one’s thoughts and to not think at all.
In the second movement, Saunders riffs something that echos a Love Supreme while the combination of string arrangements, phrases of reflective synths and organs speak of Alice Coltrane. Perhaps the solitariness of Pharaoh’s tone and the space that he is afforded by Floating Points is in a sense leaving space for the remembrance of the love and vision shared in-between John, Alice and Pharoah.
A delicate balance has been struck, one that at once feels like a logical continuation of their individual voices yet a synergy that has the makings of an instant classic, a gathering place, and a placemark in time.
Saunders with the all enlightened history of jazz behind his name and Shepherd the neuroscientist turned musician forge yet more paths into the sound of tomorrow, the balm of today. At a time when the space it affords is desperately needed. Much has been said about this album, perhaps because it’s a needed space at this time.
Buy Promises here.