Floatie: Voyage Out

Grab a sparkling limeade and some overwhelmingly orange-tinted shades because this hypnotic debut album, Voyage Out by the four-piece, math-adjacent band Floatie is something of a ride, and a ride again, and again, and again …

The group of Sam Bern (guitar, vocals), Luc Schutz (drums), Joe Olson (bass vi, vocals), and Will Wisniewski (guitar, synth, vocals) began as a duo of the two former and has been playing shows in the chicago area for nearly a decade, noted as being influential among other musicians in the scene. Voyage Out will serve as the bands first official recorded release composed of songs which have been largely completed for years.

The quirkily tuned riffs and songs on Voyage Out seem to unfold naturally and fluidly into the next creating a nice contrast to the more mildly botched sounding “mathy” excerpts which intersperse the pieces. This juxtaposition and mixture really serves to set Floatie apart from both math rock and island vibe genres but the incorporation also places them fairly in each without much fussing by the locals. (Cheese will now be served on the front deck, thank you.)

The pace starts out quite slow with “Shiny” and “Water Recipe” in a flattened major key and tucked away, helium saturated vocals which render the listening experience “as if under-water.” This picks up as sheets of light pierce the submersive haze until the title track at the album’s middle which, not breaking from the uninspired and drifting tone of the album, does pick things up to shake them a bit–introducing more of the attentive and familiar math qualities that take on a smooth and easy air enveloped in the tones and themes of “Voyage Out.” “Castleman” toward the albums close, for example, moves seamlessly from “deflated circus tent” to “melodic island drums” and back before breaking into the thirty-five second up-and-away “Ode to Shackleton;” which then gives way to the more mathy and harrumphing closing track “Lookfar.”

The whole thing is a little skewed, like something is only a bit off on this island, or raft (or circus?) It’s reminiscent of a semi-conscious state, perhaps not totally asleep, but certainly not awake; there is a melancholy that sours the otherwise happy mood that lends itself to the nausea of the swelling vocals and rocking back-and-forth of the guitar loops. “I smiled but I might puke” Bern almost hums in “Castleman.”

The album seems to want to be looped forever, on and on like this, again, and again, and again. It’s a fine listen and each track is good as a stand alone, though the album at times feels a bit repetitive. The sound however is itself original and unique to Floatie and Voyage Out can be listened to casually or intently as there are plenty of little flourishes and details which appear to the attentive listener without feeling demanding if you’re just looking for a vibe while at a gathering.

Rating: 6.3/10

Listen on Apple Music