Fourth Album is an artifact of Markus Floats’ ongoing artistic journey and ethos, infusing his palette with vivid hues and newfound depth.
I have spent considerable time pondering the paradoxical name Fourth Album and the auditory journey Markus Floats (nee Markus Lake) unfolds on this, his literal fourth collection of recorded works (which is his second release for the venerable Constellation Records; stay with me). Lake, a multidisciplinary artist who also crafts the vibrant and audacious abstract paintings adorning his album covers, possesses an innate understanding that the essence of artistic pursuit lies not in achieving a definitive endpoint but in wholeheartedly immersing oneself in the creative process. In this perspective, Fourth Album is an artifact of his artistic journey—a byproduct rather than the ultimate goal.
By intentionally adhering to a naming convention that shuns the confinement of specific themes or synopses, Markus Floats feels less and less like a person or thing and more like an idea, a paradigm. Departing from the solitary pursuit that gave us Third Album, Lake extends an invitation to fellow Egyptian Cotton Arkestra members James Goddard (on saxophone and mbira), Ari Swan (on violin), and Lucas Huang (on guitars and drums), who contribute their own brushstrokes and colours to Lake’s solo electronic abstractions, infusing his palette with newfound depth.
Press material for the new record quite him as saying, “I had always thought about Markus Floats as a solo project, but I am wrong about that. Fourth Album is about asking for help, inviting in, and making a home. It’s about trust, exploration, and the effort of letting go.” That freedom manifests in “AS ABOVE” and “SO BELOW,” two compositions connected by their title yet untethered in their presentation. The former is an electrifying freeform improvisation punctuated by pulsating currents and playful saxophone bursts and synths. The latter feels more composed but equally ambitious; any semblance of structure within its electronic orchestration is more of a suggestion—an idea Lake’s collaborators acknowledge and then (rightfully) discard in favour of letting inspiration take the wheel.
This freedom threads through the other compositions on Fourth Album, such as the fleeting optimism of “Heaven is Each Other” and the mounting tension of “Death.” Each acts as an open invitation not only to Lake’s studio collaborators but to we listeners, encouraged to make of Lake’s sketches and sonic paintings what we will.In a final twist, “C,” the closing track of Fourth Album, introduces a spoken word element—a feature previously reserved for Markus Floats’ live improvisational performances. Fred Moten, a poet, activist, and professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Performing Arts, lends his words to conclude this latest chapter in Lake’s ongoing evolution and artistic exploration as Markus Floats; words simultaneously mind-boggling and resonant with profound insight into Markus Flaots’ artistic ethos: “What we’ve been trying to figure out is how to get to is how we are when we get together to try to figure it out.”