There’s Dan Snaith, aka Caribou, who has a PhD in maths; there’s Dr Brian Cox and his flirtation with New-Labour-promoting dance-pop; and there’s Brian May who finally finished his PhD in astrophysics in 2007, a mere 30-odd years after he started it (the small matter of Queen got in the way). Really, who doesn’t love a musical brainbox?
Now we have one more, Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, a highly respected musician/inventor/DJ releasing his debut album this month, while also working on his neuroscience doctorate. And you thought you were clever for putting your trousers on the right way round this morning.
Elaenia (named for a bird in the tyrant flycatcher family), is as probing and exciting a record as you’d hope for from the Manchester-born Shepherd. It draws on his background as a student of classical music and jazz and as a devotee of obscure synthesisers, yet it sacrifices nothing by way of listenability (that’s a word, right?).
There are feathery breakbeats, gentle Brazilian jazz-funk, and cavernous, string-rich sonic soundscapes (it had to be said). Truly, Elaenia is a record that will expand your mind as it lifts your spirits.
Elaenia (Pluto) is out now