A standout mix of mellow soul, jazz, ambient and more.
The bar for Sam Shepherd's LateNightTales feels higher than usual. The remarkably sturdy mix series showcases the "selector" side of popular electronic music artists, or gives indie bands a chance to show off their good taste. But given his standing, Shepherd needs to go beyond this on his first widely released DJ mix. Accomplishing this with a mellow, contemplative set for the post-club, pre-dawn hours (per LateNightTales' ethos) presents another challenge. Shepherd's mix outdoes his own high standards, breaking new ground for the well-loved mix series with a seamless combination of modern ambient, jazz, soul and prog.
There are no quantized drums on LateNightTales. When mixing, Shepherd focuses on moods, but he doesn't abandon the technical side. A dazzling blend sees him cutting smoothly out of The Rationals' garage rock cover of Dr. John's "Glowin'" into strings from Mississippi-born jazz pianist William S. Fischer's 1970 track "Chains." The chords from the latter outré jazz piece are a pitch-perfect match for The Rationals' obscure cover, though the two records come from vastly different worlds. Throughout Late Night Tales, Floating Points mixes from different eras and genres as easily as he'd string two techno tracks together.
The mix focuses on a few of Shepherd's previously revealed obsessions. Dusty soul obscurities—such as The Defaulters' beautiful 1979 cut "Gentle Man" and Abu Talib's "Blood Of An American"—make up most of the 77-minute mix's midsection. He also plays two tracks off Alain Bellaïche's beautiful jazz prog odyssey, Sea Fluorescent, which sets the stage nicely for Azimuth's electronic vocal jazz head trip, "The Tunnel."
Shepherd doesn't limit himself to the historical and lesser known. Opening the mix with an exclusive live recording from Sarah Davachi, Shepard highlights the new wave of North American experimental synth music. He includes a piece by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and the downcast piano progression of Kara-Lis Coverdale's "Moments In Love (Excerpt)" feels like the set's emotional centerpiece.
Yes, LateNightTales' 17 tracks are unsurprisingly tasteful, including many that are impossibly rare. But it's not an overly studied trainspotters' paradise. Many of the obscure songs should appeal to the fanbase drawn in by Shepherd's productions. He says this mix represents the "the kind of records I play to set the tone when DJing all night long," but Shepherd's entry feels very much in the classic spirit of the series. Equal parts warm soul, heady jazz and mind-clearing ambience, this is one to put on after arriving home from a night out, a comforting soundtrack for a dazed living room comedown.
Thu / 28 Mar 2019
01. Sarah Davachi - Untitled, Live In Portland (Excerpt)
02. Carlos Walker - Via Láctea
03. The Rationals - Glowin'
04. William S. Fischer - Chains
05. Max Roach - Equipoise
06. Abu Talib (Bobby Wright) - Blood Of An American
07. Sweet & Innocent - Express Your Love
08. Robert Vanderbilt & The Foundation Of Souls - A Message Especially From God
09. The Defaulters - Gentle Man
10. Alain Bellaïche - Sun Blues
11. Alain Bellaïche - Sea Fluorescent
12. Kara-Lis Coverdale - Moments In Love (Excerpt)
13. Azimuth - The Tunnel
14. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Milk (Excerpt)
15. Toshimaru Nakamura - Nimb#59
16. Floating Points - The Sweet Time Suite, Part I - Opening (Exclusive Kenny Wheeler Cover Version)
17. Lauren Laverne - Ah! Why, Because The Dazzling Sun