Secret Life

Secret Life

Many artists cite Brian Eno as an inspiration, but few can actually call him a mentor. Fred Gibson can. The London-born hitmaker known as Fred again..—who recently headlined Madison Square Garden and Coachella alongside Four Tet and Skrillex—grew up next door to Eno and joined his a cappella group as a teenager. There, the pioneering ambient musician took Gibson under his wing, eventually asking him to co-produce his 2014 albums with Underworld’s Karl Hyde. It was a dream tutelage, the effects of which can be heard in Gibson’s pining, atmospheric house tracks that eagerly flood busy dance floors with raw, tender feeling. In 2022, Eno told Apple Music that he learned a fair bit in return. “I think of Fred as my mentor as well,” he told Zane Lowe. “I learned so much about contemporary music from watching him working. It’s a two-way relationship.” Here, on the duo’s first joint full-length, produced during the first two years of the pandemic, they meet each other in a gorgeous, abstract middle: Mournful, pastel soundscapes swell with strings and tearful voiceovers (“Enough”) while skittering, chopped-up, uplifting tracks (“Cmon”) seem to distort elements of rave. Ultimately, Secret Life feels like proof that club and ambient music are not so different: Both genres are more subversive, emotional and human than either are traditionally given credit for.

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