Floating Points: “Birth4000”

Floating Points’ Sam Shepherd kicked off a new phase of his career with 2021’s Promises, his ambient-jazz masterpiece with the iconic saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who died in 2022. Last month, the London electronic musician recreated the album in its expansive, meditative glory—with diverse collaborators including saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, ambient musician Kara-Lis Coverdale, members of the Sun Ra Arkestra, and Shepherd’s close friends Four Tet and Caribou—to pay tribute to the late jazz titan at one-off event at the Hollywood Bowl. But with his new single, “Birth4000,” Floating Points makes an enthusiastic return to his club origins.

Shepherd flexed his dancefloor muscles with a series of loosies in 2022, but compared to the sleek, even elegant garage of those singles, “Birth4000” is a knuckle-dragging club bruiser. The track opens with a full minute of squealing, atonal synths—imagine R2-D2 in severe emotional distress—and only gradually coalesces around an insistent bass arpeggio inspired by early-’80s hi-NRG. As the bassline soars toward an early climax, whale-song synths sing sweetly in the margins. Then the beat drops, riding roughshod over ragged modular frequencies, and all ambient illusions vanish. With a no-nonsense drum groove thwacking steadily underneath, “Birth4000” could almost pass for a Chemical Brothers stadium banger hurtling toward the night’s peak. Floating Points is a master craftsman of some of the subtlest sounds in dance music; as “Birth4000” proves, he’s pretty darn good at delivering simple, lunkheaded thrills, too.