John McLaughlin has created many high notes in his career, and just as many superb albums: Devotion, The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds Of Fire, Shakti, Electric Guitarist and Friday Night In San Francisco. Add Floating Point to that rarefied list. Seemingly cut from the same cloth as last year’s Industrial Zen, Floating Point is by far the superior record.
Recorded in India with a resident cast (save exceptional bassist Hadrien Feraud and saxophonist George Brooks), Floating Point features similar guitar synth overtones as Industrial Zen, and similarly polished production, but this brilliant collective plays as a single unit, not a band of hired studio guns. A shared sense of exhilaration, intensity, joy and purpose emerged in tracks like Off The One, Abbaji, and Five Peace Band, much of the propulsive fury created by the team of drummer Ranjit Barot and percussionist Anant Sivamani. This is a case of Indian musicians using their extraordinary skills to explore U.S. fusion, giving the guitarist an amazing platform for compositional / improvisational development. Barot and Sivamani rattle and shake their tubs like mad in Abbaji; later Barot double-times the tempo below as keyboardist Louiz Banks blows above – a ferocious whirlwind. Vocalist Shankar Mahadevan leads The Voice, a dancing drill of willowy synth riffs and Barot’s endlessly percolating drum conversation. Mahadevan’s dark, melancholic tones spread like dark clouds as bassist Feraud spins decidedly Jaco-ish commentary. This is a landmark recording, marked by detail, subtlety, and extraordinarily moving performances.
Ken Micallef, Downbeat