Tacoma Park: Floating Point for High Fives
[Potluck Foundation; Feb. 5]
The first time I listened to “There Is Only One Three,” the opening track from Tacoma Park’s debut album, Floating Point for High Fives, I blinked, and the song was over.
But when I looked at the clock, 12 minutes had passed.
On the surface, not much had happened: crickets (and later, birds) chirped in a languid loop; a buzzing drone meandered, lost, through the harmonic series; an acoustic guitar picked a single chord, eventually joined by a second guitar; and synthesizer filigrees pinged at random.
It’s the way these elements unfurl—unhurried yet focused, not so much creating tension or expectation so much as just building—that lenses time.
Tacoma Park is the duo of Ben Felton (from Jett Rink, Pegasus, and Blood Revenge) and John Harrison (North Elementary, jphono1). They’re certainly not the first band to use extended drones to play with our perceptions of time. Precursors such as Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, and Growing have already plumbed drone’s capability for temporal distortion. None of Felton or Harrison’s previous projects have really gone to such extended, heady spaces, rooted as they were in songs.
So the two approached this group as a way to experiment with intentionally crafting the space of a drone. They ask, when is a song too long? When is it too short? When might something that feels static not be?
Second song “Between One and Three” arrives at the same result as the opening track through slightly different means. It feels more acoustic somehow, its drone tambura-like, its small details derived from the plucks and decays of string instruments, somehow reminiscent of the more expansive tracks from Matmos’s The Civil War. Even when a synth bass line begins swirling through the stereo field, it feels organic rather than digital.
When the album’s first chord change arrives about eight minutes in, the effect is less a revelation than a barely perceptible change in the lighting—one I didn’t notice until at least my third time listening to the song.
The best moments on Floating Point for High Fives come when Tacoma Park leaves chord changes, with their inherent desire to go somewhere, aside. When they do use looping chord changes, it feels somehow more languid and less temporally charged. They seem to have mastered a certain kind of stasis, one that is anything but stationary.
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