Music » Album Review

CD Review: Floating Action's Body Questions

New West; Release date: Aug. 26, 2014



"People in the know can always turn their heads away," Seth Kauffman sings on "Taking Me a Little While," the melodic fuzz-bomb that opens the fourth — and best — Floating Action LP, Body Questions. Once, that might've read like a lament at hipster ambivalence, but the Black Mountain native just keeps doing his outlier thing and turning converts into zealots.

The album features the usual Kauffman hallmarks: rump-shaking bottom end, blown-out back-beats, Jazzmaster-via-Silvertone fuzz, soulful harmonies and laconic vocals — all galvanized around addictive melodies and nearly hymnal choruses. But the multi-instrumentalist dials back the exotica here — LP-closer "Fang & Furr" is the one time Kauffman indulges his reggae sweet tooth — to focus on his tightest song structures yet.

The nervy, New Order bass on "No Surprise There" and ominous staccato of "Long Dark Shadow" undercut any Zen-slacker rep Kauffman's been tagged with, while the thumping tempo of "House of Secrets" rocks harder than anything in the Kauffman catalog. But it's about balance. With hand-drum percussion buffeting a slinky mid-70s-Stones riff, "Earth-Shackles" bridges the tempo gap to a Beck-like lullaby "Don't Wake Me" or a melancholic shuffle like "Call Out."

What raises the bar are the more ambitious tape loops and oscillating noises that Kauffman spackles over the tracks in new and exciting textures. And he does it without losing the spontaneity that characterizes the origins of FA songs — the lone exception being the overcooked title cut. Still, 11 knocks in 12 at-bats is impressive work. So will this LP finally click with a larger audience? Unlikely, based on current trends and tastes. But that's certainly not Kauffman's fault.