We have Liftoff! Floating In Space reaches for the stars once again and very much succeeds with its finest serving of sumptuously cinematic post-rock yet.
Release date: August 18, 2022 | Deep Elm Records | Facebook | Instagram | Stream/Purchase
I’ve often heard that post-rock fans speak fondly of the way certain artists in the genre possess the power to convey so much – in density and complexity of both sound and emotion – particularly when completely instrumental. Maybe this is because it speaks to an ability to manifest recognisability from things we might feel unable to put into words for ourselves, as music of this calibre often garners significant attention through its ability to grip the heart and soul.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Floating In Space is the project of Ruben Caballero – a largely solitary expedition of cinematic post-rock in which the Spanish multi-instrumentalist handles everything, from composition to production and mixing. Not to be underestimated, though, this venture has accomplished a great deal, with music even used in high-profile features for Apple, Toyota, Netflix, and more. With three previous records since 2016 debut The Edge Of The Light, new album Liftoff catalogues a fourth full-length sonic journey for Floating In Space. The question is: just how far will it take us?
The answer is, as far as you’re willing to venture, in all honesty. Speaking about the album’s context over at Deep Elm Records, Caballero shared the following:
‘I envisioned Liftoff as a journey with many stops; a path through emotions, feelings, reflections, fears, and dreams. Some of the songs that this new album contains are born more from loneliness, loss, pain, or sadness, in contrast to others with a clearly more positive and luminous inspiration.‘
You might suspect that capturing such a breadth of experience and emotion across a single record could feel disjointed and detract from the listener’s enjoyment, but no: a sense of cohesion runs throughout the album, and Caballero’s heartfelt portrayal of life ties beautifully into Liftoff‘s suitably stratospheric tones – a staple on each and every Floating In Space release to date.
Within minutes of starting “Daylight”, it becomes clear that this predominantly instrumental record has been meticulously crafted to allow the listener to be as engaged as they wish. Caballero’s quote above spoke of the thematic polarities encompassed on Liftoff, and despite origins such as loss and sadness painting themselves potently into the sometimes sombre compositions, the overarching textures and melodies that seep forth often tend to hint at triumph and a sense of overcoming.
This blend can be heard as you roam the vast expanse of the album. Songs like “Parallel Paths” and “Words Never Said” greet you with tranquil piano enveloped by ambient strings, but this softness opens up, blossoming into beauty that’s less driven by distorted force than some peers, but certainly no less impactful. Elsewhere, “Crash” and “The Greatest View” disperse their energy more readily. The former is a rise-and-fall musical meteor littered with twinkling synths, while the latter is a resonating, evolving titan that leans a little more heavily into the ‘rock’ in post-rock, as well as decidedly optimistic tones. It also represents Caballero’s ambition that – even allowing for pained origins – ‘a halo of light and hope will always be present… Liftoff reminds us that on our journey we may see and feel the darkness but we will not get caught up in it.‘
Moreover, crescendos on Liftoff don’t feel employed for the sake of grandeur or to bring a forcefully colossal, thrashing sense of power and finality to a song. Rather, all layers, however prominent, coalesce to expand the scope of what we hear and feel. At a glancing comparison to the piano, ambient synths, and guitar work, the drums and bass may appear merely supplementary, but a listen to “1992” demonstrates how they are used to great effect to further our exploratory listening; they ebb and flow in intensity between tracks, like momentary pauses in a vessel’s thrusters that allow one to simply immerse themselves in the infinite splendour of outer space.
Fortunately for variety’s sake, not every track charts the same course, either. Some tracks eschew lengthy layer building in favour of more ambient-centric snippets, whereas “Space And Time” sees the album’s only lyricised vocals. Despite being an isolated event, they feel comforting and surprisingly natural amongst the other songs as we drift through this harmoniously layered cosmos of sound towards the wondrous finale of “The Place I Always Come Back To”.
Liftoff provides an affirming, memorable experience from Floating In Space that stands (or rather, drifts) as loftily as the galactic territories it embodies. Caballero states that ‘through this journey I wanted to represent the learning that every experience gives you, be it positive or negative‘. As a listening experience, Liftoff is undoubtedly a positive one; invigorating from start to finish and poetic in its execution, it would seem that even the sky is no limit for this extraordinary musical venture.