Electro musician Floating Points’ first in a series of environmental recordings has been documented in a new movie, Reflections – Mojave Desert, chronicling his time recording with his band in the endless expanse of the desert.
Floating Points, aka Sam Shepherd, and his band spent time in the Mojave Desert last August ahead of their US tour.
The short film, Reflections – Mojave Desert, which is directed by Anna Diaz Ortuño, showcases the unique soundscapes captured by the band whilst recording in this unique landscape.
Sam Shepherd said: “While we were out playing and exploring the area around us – the sound reflecting from the rocks, the sound of the wind between them, complete stillness at night and packs of roaming coyotes in the distance, it became apparent that we could use this as its own unique recording environment.”
The Mojave Desert, at more than 25,000 square miles, occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Named after the Mojave Native Americans, the Mojave Desert also contains the Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park and the lowest-hottest place in North America, Death Valley, where the temperature can get up to 120F in late July and early August.
The region has salt flats in the centre. These flats are surrounded by rocky, dry mountains and canyons, plains of sand and gravel, and long slopes or bajadas.
The Mojave Desert proved itself to be a fascinating soundscape for Floating Points and his band to capture sound in the most unusual of recording spaces. Whilst visiting Joshua Tree National Park, they were struck not only by its physical beauty, but also by the sonic reflections from the rock formations.
Describing the sounds captured within this landscape characterised by rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes, Sam Shepherd said: “A unique combination of reverb, echo and phase shifting modulating the surrounding sounds of the landscape.”
Sam Shepherd and the band set up a recording operation, outside Joshua Tree, and filmed this new work at the base of the natural sculptures they encountered. Microphones were placed throughout the landscape to capture the natural sonic textures of the desert – undulating winds, bird calls and natural reverberation – all of which were mixed back into the final recording.
Reflections – Mojave Desert is accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of five new tracks from Floating Points. The soundtrack mirrors the landscape – soaring and vast, dynamic and intimate, centred around two longer works and shorter pieces.
Reflections – Mojave Desert is the first in a line of short films, under Floating Point’s Reflections series, which will explore landscapes across the world, capturing the connection through sound.
Musician, DJ and producer, Sam Shepard explained: “Through the process of making this record, we decided to start a series of musical and video explorations in interesting locations, where the music is a function of its surroundings. This first experiment only marks the beginning in this idea, and am currently seeking new interesting acoustic environments to explore.”
The world premiere of Reflections – Mojave Desert, takes place on 29 June at London’s Barbican, followed by a Q&A with Sam Shepherd and film director Anna Diaz Ortuño. Boiler Room will host a global live stream of the event.
The soundtrack will be released on June 30 via Pluto.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com