The forthcoming album from Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders has had an unusual road to release, but then again, the music itself is anything but ordinary. Promises, five years in the making and out March 26 on Luaka Bop, finds English electronic musician and composer Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, teaming up with legendary saxophonist Sanders, 80, and the London Symphony Orchestra to create a continuous, nine-movement composition. As such, Promises has no singles, lending Tuesday’s new teaser for the album a special significance.
We recapped the album’s announcement while highlighting it among our most-anticipated March releases, writing:
Everything about Promises [...] is, first and foremost, dreamlike. This began even with the album’s announcement: The body of the press release consisted only of a pair of conversations between Shepherd and Sanders, presumably transcribed during the Promises sessions; in one, Sanders speaks about music coming to him in dreams (“I’m on a ship. In the ocean. Bears coming around smoking cigars. The bears are singing, ‘We have the music. We have what you’re looking for’”), while in the other, Shepherd describes a just-concluded take as “two musicians [...] trying to guide each other.”
Today’s release of short film Promises: Prologue maintains that surreal sensibility while also matter-of-factly revealing what’s under the hood of the album. As pictures from the Promises sessions cycle past, a selection from Shepherd and Sanders’ creation plays in the background, over which a voice lists their many individual collaborators, including artist Julie Mehretu, whose painting “Congress” appears on the album cover. Near the end of the film, Sanders is seen seated, stirring with saxophone in hand, as if awakening from a dream.
In addition to sharing Promises: Prologue, Shepherd and Sanders have announced “Promises: Chapter I, a non-visual experience” set for Sunday, March 21, at 2 p.m. ET. You can RSVP to the broadcast here, and when you do, you’ll receive a message that reads in part: “To enjoy this experience to the fullest extent, we encourage you to allow yourself to be fully immersed. You may want to venture into nature (but not so far that you lose cell service), or prepare for a deeper listening experience at your home. If COVID safety allows, perhaps you may want to gather with one or two people who are important to you.”
As we gushed in our March album preview, “Promises is an abundant, celestial, majestic piece of music—you’re unlikely to hear anything else quite like it this year.”
Watch Promises: Prologue below.