Offbeat | How UK super-producer Fred again.. is permanently changing electronic music

Offbeat is a bi-weekly blog offering new and meaningful takes on all things media.

By Jillian Rowan, Staff Writer

Fred again.. has done it, well, again.

With his third solo album release on Friday — the finale to his sample-infused “Actual Life” trifecta — 29-year-old Fred Gibson has the music industry in a chokehold.

His discography encompasses fluttery synths, dripping vocals and a soul-melting ambiance that is hard to replicate. He’s sure got a knack for curating and creating these addictive garage anthems.

The British songwriter, DJ, producer and multi-instrumentalist created “Actual Life 3” to function as a sonic diary. Samples riddle the album, gleaned from social media, voice memos and other songs. Each piece reflects a person or place, like “Delilah (pull me out of this),” a derivative of Delilah Montagu’s mournful tune “Lost Keys.” Initially detailing a panic attack in the club, Gibson flips it on its head, revamping the track into a rhapsodic dance-floor melody.

In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, the equal-parts sheepish and smiley Gibson relays, “I think the feeling that I became really obsessed with was trying to take the very fleeting moments and trying to expose as much beauty as is in them.”

Though a force in the music world for nearly a decade, Gibson exploded in fame after his pulsating performance debut in London’s Boiler Room this summer. With mentoring from the famed Brian Eno, Gibson moved from the backstage to the limelight.

While a producer for greats like Ed Sheeran and Stormzy in the past, per Eno’s advice, Gibson allowed his personal work to take precedence. So, naturally, we see the beautiful places this shift has taken him.

Gibson has built himself on reinventing sound and continues to experiment with it. With his MPC drum machine/sampler, he’s created heart-stoppingly gorgeous and euphoric sounds, fusing bassy house and soul in a most unlikely but stunning marriage. On his board, he manipulates sounds and samples with quick fingers, throwing in restless drum beats, crooning voices and haunting drones that stay with you far after the music ends. These distortions, pitch shifts and remixes amass shimmering ballads, profoundly refreshing and reflective of Gibson’s chronically unparalleled approach to music.

“The music Fred again.. creates is threaded with sounds culled from the far reaches of YouTube, Instagram and his iPhone camera roll — a sonic bricolage of digitally documented lives,” Peter Fisher wrote in The New York Times.

Fred Gibson gives music a new lease on life and happily shares it with the world. A creative far beyond our time, he’s made a symphony of his existence, hearing in music what others cannot.

I’d be hard-pressed ever to find a musician like Fred again.. again.

Jillian writes about a range of media topics. You can reach her at [email protected].