CD released: Oct 20, 2023
The follow-up to his acclaimed Constellation debut Third Album released in lockdown spring 2020, Markus Floats returns with Fourth Album, pushing the Montr al-based artist's distinct abstract electronic compositions into newly evocative terrain (while preserving his record-titling literalism). Faced with another couple of years spent unexpectedly, though not unfamiliarly, secluded and studio-bound, working on both paintings and music, Floats emerged by the end of 2022 with a set of tracks "about 60% finished" and a determined desire to throw off the shackles of distancing and isolation. "I had always thought about Markus Floats as a solo project but I am wrong about that. Fourth Album is about asking for help, inviting in, and making a home. It's about trust, exploration, and the effort of letting go."Sharing his in-progress recordings with a trio of close friends and collaborators from the powerhouse free music ensemble Egyptian Cotton Arkestra, each of these players then spent a day improvising to the tracks at Montr al's Hotel2Tango studio. With violin by Ari Swan, saxophone and mbira by James Goddard, and guitar and drums by Lucas Huang, Floats stitched their extemporized instruments back into his compositional process. The result is a fluid, lustrous, dynamic expansion of his sound and structure that continues to strike the ineffable balance of abstraction and soulfulness rightly highlighted and celebrated in the critical response to Third Album. Fourth Album sustains much of that previous work's enchanting equanimity, while inviting a bit more restlessness, accident and grit, with the incorporation of acoustic instruments and improvisation melding Floats' own background in Electroacoustic Studies and Jazz Performance more than ever before.Signature avant-electronic explorations of arpeggiated and timbral transformation, subtle shifts in harmonic consonance and dissonance, and a through-composed praxis that draws coterminously upon free jazz, musique concr te and modern Minimalism, all continue to shape Fourth Album to great effect. But an additional palette of sonic and gestural raw material is now also decidedly "out-of-the-box", charting a wider range of gestures, textures and temporalities. Fourth Album complexifies and intensifies across its 12 tracks, thematizing dualities and introducing new elements of play and accident, even a sort of looseness here and there, as it conjures communal expressivity within shorter, still scrupulous formal structures. Fourth Album also for the first time includes spoken word as a recorded element, previously only (and always) a feature of Markus Floats live performances. The album's final track samples the poet and activist Fred Moten, closing with these words: "What we've been trying to figure out how to get to is how we are when we get together to try to figure it out." This koan of socially-engaged process and creation/advancement of meaning through praxis and immanence reflects the unique fusion of intangible materiality and affective sensibility at work in Markus Floats music, unfolding in new depths and currents with Fourth Album.