Floating Points is a British electronic music producer and DJ. He has released music on labels such as Ninja Tune, Eglo Records and Brownswood Recordings. He has collaborated with many artists including Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra. His track “Promises”, released in 2018, is a collaboration with Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra. The track is a beautiful and dreamy combination of electronic and orchestral elements, creating an ethereal and tranquil atmosphere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promises_(Floating_Points,_Pharoah_Sanders_and_the_London_Symphony_Orchestra_album)#Floating Points Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra Promises

2021 studio album by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra
Promises
Promises (Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra).png
Studio album by

Released 26 March 2021 (2021-03-26)
Recorded 2019–2020
Studio Sargent Recorders
(Los Angeles, California)
AIR Studios
(London, England)
Genre Minimalism
Length 46:33
Label Luaka Bop
Producer Floating Points
Floating Points chronology
Crush
(2019)
Promises
(2021)
Pharoah Sanders chronology
Live in Paris (1975) (Lost ORTF Recordings)
(2020)
Promises
(2021)

Promises is a 2021 collaborative studio album by British electronic musician Floating Points, American jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra. It was released on 26 March 2021 through New York–based label Luaka Bop. The album consists of a single 46-minute composition noted for its “dreamlike” quality. The album has received widespread critical acclaim from music critics. Promises was the final album Sanders released in his lifetime, having died in 2022.

Background and recording

Sam Shepherd, a British DJ, musician and producer, has produced numerous projects in the field of electronic music under the moniker Floating Points. The last previous Floating Points album, Crush, was released in 2019. For Pharoah Sanders, Promises was the only studio album he released in over a decade, before passing away the next year.

Sanders first became aware of Shepherd’s work in 2015 when he was impressed by the debut Floating Points album Elaenia. Sanders was 75 years old at the time. He later befriended Shepherd, who is 40 years his junior, over lunch and, eventually, proposed that the two of them produce a collaborative album. Shepherd composed the music and played numerous electronic and non-electronic instruments. He further enlisted the London Symphony Orchestra to perform arrangements he had written. The album was primarily recorded at Sargent Recorders in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 2019. The strings were recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at AIR Studios in London in the summer of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The orchestra included violins, violas, cellos, and double basses.

Composition

Sam Shepherd (left) and Pharoah Sanders (right)

Promises has been called an ambient record, noted for its “dreamlike” quality. The album consists of a single musical composition written by Sam Shepherd, divided into nine movements. The piece begins with its central motif: a short pattern of notes played by Shepherd on synthesiser, piano and harpsichord. The motif is repeated throughout the piece in variations. It is compounded with a sparse backdrop of synthetic arrangements from Shepherd, particularly synthesiser. The background is also populated by Sanders’s atmospheric tenor saxophone passages, which vary in intensity and are positioned sparingly throughout. In the fourth movement, Sanders uses his voice to vocalize wordless passages. Sanders’s saxophone concludes its presence at the end of the seventh movement.

String arrangements performed by the London Symphony Orchestra appear in this instrumental conversation between Shepherd and Sanders. In the sixth movement, the strings reach their climax with rising crescendos that overpower the mix; the orchestra then dissipates into the background at the movement’s conclusion. Shepherd and Sanders resume their running performance, veering into an “abstract psychedelia” direction. The central motif ultimately fades from the mix during the eighth movement. After a series of false endings, the piece finally concludes with its ninth movement.

The album has been compared to Sanders’s 1971 album Black Unity, which similarly consists of a single musical composition. It has been classified as a piece of minimalist composition.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
AnyDecentMusic? 8.8/10
Metacritic 86/100
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic
Clash 9/10
Exclaim! 9/10
Financial Times
Loud and Quiet 10/10
Mojo
musicOMH
The Observer
Pitchfork 9.0/10
Uncut 7/10

Promises was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 from reviews from professional critics, the album received a score of 86, based on 20 reviews. Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 8.8 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.

Chiara Wilkinson of The Quietus called Promises a “celebration of sound at its finest and most pure: from the smallest scratch to cathartic crescendos, from spiralling improv to contemplative silences. Every note, whisper, bleep, and shift is significant. It is marvellously multifaceted but never obnoxious: a refreshing, one-of-a-kind conversation between jazz, classical, and electronic.” Kitty Empire of The Observer gave the album a perfect score, calling it a “breathtaking” album that transcends the collaborators’ usual genres. Mark Richardson of Pitchfork called it a “a clear late-career masterpiece” for Sanders. Daniel Sylvester of Exclaim! wrote that Sanders and Shepherd were “so metaphysically in tune with their latest creation that their respective musical personalities almost disappear into the waves of sound, making Promises a recording that is more of a transcending mind meld than it is a collaboration.” John Mulvey of Mojo compared the album to Henryk Górecki‘s symphonies and to Alice Coltrane‘s World Galaxy, calling it a “subtly sophisticated piece” that “creates space for Sanders to showcase his tender, measured, lyrical phrasing, abstracted scatting and […] a brief sputtering blast of free saxophone energy that proves, at 80, his fire remains potent. Stephen Dalton of Uncut called it an “impressive collision of talents” but concluded that it was “frustratingly slight” and overall a minor addition to both artists’ discographies.

Year-end lists

Year-end lists for Promises
Publication List Rank Ref.
BBC Radio 6 Music Albums of the Year 2021
8
Exclaim! 50 Best Albums of 2021
7
The Guardian The 50 best albums of 2021
23
Mojo The 75 Best Albums of 2021
1
NPR Music The 50 Best Albums of 2021
6
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2021
1
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2021
4
The Sunday Times 25 best albums of 2021
12
Time The 10 Best Albums of 2021
1
Uncut The Top 75 Albums of the Year
2

Track listing

All tracks are written by Sam Shepherd.

Vinyl edition

Side A
No. Title Length
1. “Promises (Movements 1–5)” 18:40
Side B
No. Title Length
1. “Promises (Movements 6–9)” 27:51

CD and digital edition

No. Title Length
1. “Movement 1” 6:24
2. “Movement 2” 2:31
3. “Movement 3” 2:32
4. “Movement 4” 2:31
5. “Movement 5” 4:25
6. “Movement 6” 8:50
7. “Movement 7” 9:28
8. “Movement 8” 7:22
9. “Movement 9” 2:30
Total length: 46:33

Personnel

Credits adapted from the album’s liner notes.

Music

  • Sam Shepherd – piano, harpsichord, celesta, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Oberheim 4 voice, Oberheim OB-Xa, Solina String Ensemble, Therevox ET-4.3, EMS Synthi, ARP 2600, Buchla 200e, string writing, string arrangements
  • Pharoah Sanders – tenor saxophone, voice
  • London Symphony Orchestra – strings
  • Sally Herbert – LSO conductor
  • Carmine Lauri – LSO lead
  • Olli Cunningham – score preparation
  • Colin Rae – score preparation

Technical

  • Sam Shepherd – mixing
  • Tim Pennells – assistant mixing
  • John Prestage – recording (AIR)
  • Ashley Andrew-Jones – assistant recording (AIR)
  • Gianluca Massimo – assistant recording (AIR)
  • Jeremy Murphy – engineering (AIR)
  • Sean Cook – engineering (Sargent)
  • Chris Bellman – lacquer cut
  • Yale Evelev – executive production
  • Eric Welles-Nyström – executive production

Artwork

  • Julie Mehretu – cover artwork
  • Eric Welles-Nyström – photos in Los Angeles
  • Shawn Johnson – photos from London
  • Paul Diddy – design, layout

Charts

Weekly charts

Chart performance for Promises
Chart (2021) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders) 18
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia) 47
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) 53
Swedish Physical Albums (Sverigetopplistan) 14
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) 46
UK Albums (OCC) 6
UK Independent Albums (OCC) 1

Year-end charts

Chart (2021) Position
Australian Jazz and Blues Albums (ARIA) 37

References

External links


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