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George FitzGerald is a singular voice in electronic music, uniting underground dancefloor progressivism with pop’s cutting edges. His return has been eagerly anticipated since 2018’s breakthrough All That Must Be, an album that made astonishing use of the format’s potential for electronic music.
The south London producer, musician, and songwriter is back with his third studio album, Stellar Drifting. Marrying rich electronic pop melodies with club rhythms and the bass weight of UK dance music, Stellar Drifting sees FitzGerald continue to explore new avenues of emotional potential in electronic music. The album features a slew of guest vocalists, with Panda Bear, London Grammar, and SOAK appearing across its ten tracks.
Stellar Drifting is all twinkling melodies and iridescent electronics. FitzGerald’s writing has never been sharper, both on Stellar Drifting’s predominantly instrumental tracks (the lush orchestration of “Setting Sun”, the sunburst energy of “Ultraviolet”) and its vocal ones (the memorable topline that sits atop “Cold”). Panda Bear brings a star turn to “Passed Tense”, with FitzGerald – a longtime fan of Animal Collective and Panda Bear’s solo records – having asked to collaborate during lockdown, when the world was on pause. “Rainbows and Dreams” sees Northern Irish singer-songwriter SOAK look to the sky, while the album comes back down to Earth with “The Last Transmission”, a reunion with London Grammar following their previous work with FitzGerald on the chart-topping 2021 album Californian Soil.
Following the release of his second album All That Must Be in 2018, FitzGerald noticed that the world seemed to be shrinking. Many around him were struggling with loss, illness, depression, and addiction. He wanted to write music that confronted this growing sense of helplessness and restriction.
And so he thought about escapism and transcendence. Alone in a windowless studio for days at a time, he found himself consumed by thoughts of outer space, and began to search through visual archives from NASA telescopes. He listened to audio from probes floating around the solar system capturing the sound of interstellar space and distant moons. Soon, he realised that these ideas weren’t just inspiring him in an abstract sense – they were literally becoming the building blocks of his next record.
Using wavetable and granular synthesis techniques, FitzGerald turned telescopic images into synthesiser oscillators. He used audio from space probes to create new textures. He was able to imbue his own personal meaning into these sounds. The result, written over four years and finished in his studio in Bermondsey, is an album of wide-eyed wonder and emotion; of uplift and hope.
Themes of outer space and the future have occupied a central presence in electronic music since its earliest days, and Stellar Drifting taps into the preoccupations of some of FitzGerald’s most treasured influences, from Daft Punk to Neu!, Carl Craig to Wookie, Air to Boards of Canada. The term ‘stellar drift’ refers to the movement of stars – far from being static and eternal, space is constantly in motion, and celestial bodies are changing over time. The album title hints at an otherworldly serenity that might be found within this continual flux.