Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

FLOATING ACTION

Body Questions

2014-08-14

Whoa. This is one of those instances when you put on a record by an artist you've never heard and instantaneously feel a wave of regret wash over you as the music courses through your headphones. To clarify: not the kind of regret that begs the question, "Why am I wasting my time listening to this?" The kind that goes, "Why the hell haven't I heard this before?"

Floating Action is the brainchild of red-bearded Seth Kauffman of Black Mountain, North Carolina, a place where geniuses (genii?) such as Albert Einstein, John Cage, and Buckminster Fuller flocked to live, work, and study at Black Mountain College. The community there has been described as a "crazy and magical place, and the electricity of all the people seemed to make for a wonderfully charged atmosphere, so that one woke up in the mornings excited and a little anxious, as though a thunderstorm were sweeping in."

A good way to put it, really. Although Body Questions--the 7th release under the Floating Action moniker and the first release with New West Records--is more sunshine than rainstorm, it has its brooding moments, too. Kauffman writes and records all the tracks by himself: the vox, guitars, bass, and percussion a common thread between the music of Body Questions, although their contexts shift throughout. As a record, it is a songwriter's exploration of pop songs and their potential applications; apologetic, contemplative, nonplussed, deeply invested, candid, calculated--Kauffman is all over the place, sometimes hitting two or three of these moods within the course of one track.

It's difficult to choose a favorite here, but there are certainly some notably glowing moments. The first three tracks, "Taking Me a Little While," "Unrevenged," and "No Surprise There" all have catchy grooves and razor-sharp arrangements that are radio ready. "Earth-Shackles" has some vaguely pan-African drum patterns, the momentum of "Don't Wake Me" is carried along by some lovely, gentle fingerpicking, and "Hide Away Too Long" features a great riff in the verses and bridges and some undeniably contagious background "ooh las" in the chorus. Near the end of the record, tracks 9 through 11 are more subtle slow-burners, but are still effective and nice listens. Body Questions closes with "Fang & Furr," a chilled out, sunny ska-influenced head-bobber that miraculously manages to not be corny.

In short, I like this record. I think you will too.

Phun Phacts: Kauffman's breadth of talents have been recognized by quite a few visionaries, leading to collaborations with Jim James, Dan Auerbach, and Dr. Dog. He was also recently asked onstage by Jenny Lewis to play violin with her.

Recommended Tracks: #1 "Taking Me a Little While", #2 "Unrevenged", #5 "Earth-Shackles", #7 "Hide Away Too Long"

Sig Steiger 

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