John McLaughlin Floating Point Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

This new arrival is a somewhat disappointing fare.

Martin Longley 2008

Guitar virtuoso John McLaughlin has apparently stated that he believes this new album is quite possibly his prime recorded achievement. He must surely be in the thrall of fatherhood, as this new arrival is a somewhat disappointing fare. Floating Point marks a return to the fusion zone, but it's adopting more of a backward motion, rather than transcending into some futuristic form. The influence of Indian classical music still looms large, but is transposed into a bland electrified environment that sounds fixed in the old 1980s days.

McLaughlin insists on using a guitar synthesiser, when keyboardist Louiz Banks is already laying down copious amounts of flutey weeble. To top this, McLaughlin also has a pair of old school bansuri bamboo flautists contributing to a pair of tracks. It wouldn't be so bad if McLaughlin was prepared to discover some more unlikely samples to trigger with his fleet string-work. It's a plastic fusion, with Ranjit Barot's drums sounding much too hard, as if he's playing electro-pads with an automated brutality.

The disc is recorded in Chennai, and features several guesting Indian players who mostly add a greater sense of acoustic bite. Slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya demonstrates the joy of audible string-stress, and singer Shankar Mahadevan breaks up the smoothness with his angular phrasing. Off The One has a gripping tune, but 14U is horribly chirpy. Ultimately, there's an ever-present frustration with McLaughlin's sound, a desperate urge to hear the roar and rend of a 'real' amplifier, the ripping and tearing of 'real' strings'.

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