‘Rebel’ Rod’s Reviews – Floating Action’s “Desert Etiquette” (Park the Van Records) is hauntingly beautiful
Every now and then, a record comes along that just grabs you and, despite all your efforts, will not let go of you. Sometimes something comes along and grabs you and you do not want it to let go.
That is the precisely what occurred to me when I listened to Floating Action’s latest release, “Desert Etiquitte” (Park the Van Records) scheduled for release this coming February 22nd.
Black Mountain, North Carolina-based musician, songwriter, and producer Seth Kauffman is Floating Action. Taking the name from a vintage Gretsch bass drum pedal, they are as smooth as the tone generated from the pedal striking the skin of the bass drum. Deep, bold, vibrations echoing through your head, haunting you all along the way, resulting in the listener hanging on every word, every note, generating an immediate explosion of gratification in your mind, resulting in pure, music induced euphoria.
Floating Action does not really remind you of anyone in particular. Instead, they possess their own, unique sound. If I had to compare them to someone, I really do not know who it would be or what to call it, resulting in them falling into the Americana category, but as Kauffman says, “We’re a southern band whose hearts are in the west coast.” According to their bio, Bob Dylan has had a degree of influence on Mr. Kauffmann’s style, in both his writing and his performance.
The first tune, “Well Hidden”, begins with the gentle strumming of the sitar, joined by the slow, slightly off beat picking of the acoustic guitar. To say the least, it hooks you right from the start. The lyrics begin with Mr. Kauffman singing, “Keep it hidden like a secret hidden like a scar/to be born in transcendental brilliant shattered star/cross-legged knight stays hidden in the dark” – deep meaningful words that go right along with the rest of the tune. In other words, everything balances well, and works together perfectly. A well-crafted song sets the pace for the rest of the record.
Every song on the record becomes an enormous amount of fun to hear, but besides “Well Hidden”, my favorite tune is track seven, “Modern Gunslinger”. It starts out with a music-box chime playing the melody of the tune, quickly followed by the slightly distorted strumming of the rhythm guitar.
Here Mr. Kauffmann sings of, exactly what the title says, a modern day gunslinger. Certainly someone with the mentality of the wild-wild west but trapped in the uncomfortable settings of present day. “Living downtown, living all alone, on the fifteenth floor looking down/Down to the ground” always lurking in the darkness, and as the lyrics tell us in the chorus – “Modern gunslinger is waiting for you, got your world turned upside down”. Disturbingly cool lyrics, and as simply written as the song is, when you put it all together it becomes something deceivingly complex. You could say the same thing about virtually all 10 songs on the album.
What is it the IFC Chanel says about their unique programming; “always on, slightly off” – or something to that effect? You could say the same for this brilliantly produced record. With the exception of a single pedal steel recording on “Rogue River”, every song on “Desert Etiquette” was written, performed, produced, and recorded by Mr. Kauffman. He explains, “When an idea comes in directly from above, you can often capture it in its pure state by eliminating the middle man. Sometimes bottling it at the source is just easier, and nothing gets lost in translation”.
I could not agree more.