New Floating Action from Park The Van

“We’re a southern band whose hearts are in the west
Due in February, the album also features the mixing talents of Band Of
Horses’ Bill Reynolds. Download MP3, below.


By Blurt Staff


Floating Action – aka Black
Mountain, North Carolina-based musician, songwriter, and producer Seth Kauffman
– returns to the record bins on Feb. 22 with Desert Etiquette, which arrives via indie tastemaker label Park the
Van. It follows 2007’s Research (released
under Kauffman’s own name) and Floating Action’s self-titled album from 2009.

Taking its title from a legend told to Kauffman by his sister (in the Middle East, it is proper etiquette to leave a drinking
vessel for the hypothetical next traveler near a remote oasis) Desert Etiquette is the most
stripped-down Floating Action affair to date. Aside from one pedal steel
recording on the closing track, every song on Desert Etiquette was written, performed, produced, and recorded by
Kauffman himself. He explains his d.i.y. approach thusly: “When an idea
comes in directly from above, you can often capture it in it’s pure state by
eliminating the middle man. Sometimes bottling it at the source is just easier,
and nothing gets lost in translation”


Check out an MP3 of

There’s no such thing as a “typical” Floating Action song. Folk,
soul, southern-rock, gospel, surf, and bedroom lo-fi somehow coexist and cohere
in the same record-even the same song. There is, however, a distinct Floating
Action sound. Kauffman’s warm recordings and lushly anachronistic sound is
uniquely his. Like Dr. Dog keyboardist Zach Miller said in a recent interview,
“His songs are timeless, effortless, and instantly memorable.”


During the process of making his
previous records, Kauffman would write and record quite sporadically, usually
over several months. With Desert
, he challenged himself to do exactly the opposite: to write
feverishly-literally-and then compress recording and mixing time dramatically. Heeding
Dylan’s advice that there’s no better time to write than when sick, Kauffman
wrote the lyrics for the Desert Etiquette in two days, then recorded the album over a concentrated period of 48 total
hours. Kauffman’s friend and collaborator, Band of Horses bassist Bill
Reynolds, mixed the record in a similarly off-the-cuff vein-live and
spontaneously, using a vintage Trident console.

Desert Etiquette’s songs
were recorded without ornamentation or embellishment-often using less than
eight tracks per song-and the imagery of Kauffman’s lyrics shines through.
Kauffman likens the stark result to Floating Action’s version of Dylan’s John Wesley Harding. With its pared-down
instrumentation, Desert Etiquette is
distinctly human-scale, a melancholic elegy to the sublime, violent beauty of
the American landscape that aims to “capture the feeling you get when you’re
in Big Sur.”
Floating Action is certainly a southern band-tinges of blues, gospel, and
country lace most of their songs-but as Kauffman says, “We’re a southern
band whose hearts are in the west coast.”



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