A2. Silhouettes (I, II & III)
B2. Thin Air
B3. For Marmish
B4. Peroration Six
For the past ten years, all roads Shepherd has followed have slowly been leading to Elaenia – an album with roots deep in his formative years that draw upon everything Shepherd has done to date. His debut album proper, Elaenia is the culmination of all things Sam Shepherd: the Eglo label boss, the ensemblist, the producer, scientist and visual artist – and that’s only scraping the surface. He created the artwork for Elaenia himself by making a harmonograph from scratch, and set it to various light sources that responded to the album track ‘For Marmish’. “I saw a harmonograph on display at the science museum in London a few years ago, as well as a couple of drawings produced by the machine,” he explains. “The shame of it though was that you didn’t get to see it actually in action. So I built one” Like much of Elaenia itself, the artwork is meticulously crafted – Shepherd used fibre optic cables, photograph paper, even a modular synthesizer to generate light pulses. He gave the same attention to detail to the artwork as he did every moment Elaenia, an album that is almost a hundred percent hand-crafted from compositions right down to its instruments.
The mesmerising ebbs and flows of Elaenia span moments of light and dark; rigidity and freedom; elegance and chaos. There is the lush, euphoric enlightenment of ‘Silhouettes”, a three-part composition that acts as a testament to those early days Shepherd spent playing in various ensembles – complete with an immensely tight rhythm section that ends up providing a cathartic, blissful release. Elsewhere, Shepherd’s knack for masterful late night sets bare fruition to the hypnotic, electronic pulse of ‘Argenté’, a welcome change of pace. “I certainly like pauses in DJing,” he explains. “Especially in all night sets where I assume dancers would welcome moments of calm… why not! Plastic People taught me that. When I think of the forty or so minutes of this album, there are moments of dance, and moments of utter stillness. I’ve found that with my dancefloor productions, patience with build ups can make that release all the sweeter.” Elaenia draws upon the many parts of Sam’s life, from DJ to artist to inventor, and provides the clearest context of his musical skills to date – it’s the end result of the direction he has always been moving in.