Stellar Drifting

Stellar Drifting

From Bowie to Brian Eno and beyond, musicians have long been fascinated and inspired by the cosmos. But on Stellar Drifting, Hertfordshire producer and DJ George FitzGerald takes his interest in space to a whole new, literal level. “I started experimenting with building sounds using pictures of stars and the universe from the NASA archives,” FitzGerald tells Apple Music. “It became a weird hobby and obsession and sounds odd, but once you turn any image into wavelengths, then you have the building blocks for creating sounds on a synthesizer.” Describing the process as a “metaphor for escapism,” FitzGerald has used those sounds as the foundation for a deeply affecting set that’s soothing, mediative, and has its head way up in the clouds. While there are nods to his days as a club producer and DJ in the garage drums of “Setting Sun” or the Carl Craig-esque “Cosmonaut Alley,” at heart this is an album designed to help your mind and body float away. Here FitzGerald provides the stories behind each track. “Further and Further” “This track’s all about easing the listener in. In some ways, the sound you hear at the beginning is quite like old-school rave stabs, but there’s also some quite ambient recordings of solar wind too. It’s gentle and sets the tone of the record before the vocal tracks come in.” “Passed Tense” (feat. Panda Bear) “I’ve been a big fan of Animal Collective and Panda Bear’s [Noah Lennox] solo work too for years. I really wanted to work with a vocalist with a different tone to the kind of singers I’d worked with before, and he was right at the top of my dream list. He’s got this amazing tone to his voice, and we’re on the same label, and the pandemic seemed a good time to be like, ‘Well, everyone’s at home, I might as well ask.’ I love it because he brings this sort of leftfield Beach Boys vibe and it brings something really different to my music. We went back and forth on it for a year and a half, but I’m really proud of the finished piece.” “Rainbows and Dreams” (feat. SOAK) “This began as a jam I did in a friend’s studio on a Prophet-5 synth. I work in quite an idiosyncratic way where I begin a song, get stuck at around 70 percent finished, start another one, and then end up combining ideas from them all. Anyway, my friend had been working on some songs with SOAK and had this a cappella of an unused track which I thought was really beautiful. I reached out and asked if I could try something with it, and I completely cut it up and sampled it and pulled different bits of music from various sources and it just came together really nicely.” “Cold” “The vocalist on this is actually Ellie Goulding. She came down to the studio and we recorded a track together but I didn’t really like the instrumental I made for the track. Later on, I had an a cappella of hers from another session and I pitched it right down and it sounded incredible. I called her to check if she was OK with it or if she wanted to re-record it, but she was really happy to just do something a little weird with it and remain uncredited. We left it uncredited as I felt someone with a massive and passionate fanbase like hers, they could feel I was insulting her by pitching her vocal right down. But we both love how it turned out.” “Setting Sun” “This is probably my favorite track on the album, and, again, the music came from various sources. It began as a big synth jam in a friend's studio, and we ended up with half an hour of audio, which I then cut down and spliced in different ways. Then I added these swung, kind of garage-esque drums as I’d been listening to a lot of Wookie and things like that around that time. Then I worked with my friend Mike Lesirge—who’s in my band and has worked with the likes of Bonobo and Arlo Parks—on adding strings, and they really brought the track to life.” “Cosmonaut Alley” “This track reminds me quite a lot of Carl Craig, who’s a big musical hero of mine. The big explosion sounds at the beginning of the track, they are a big calling card of his. There’s a lot of space sounds in this too, and it began with a photo of Jupiter which I put through the sampling process. There’s some strings in there too, but they’re a bit lower in the mix and a bit less obvious.” “Retina Flash” “I wrote this track in the middle of the pandemic when the idea of live music coming back felt very distant. It’s basically a drum track with a few synthesizers in there too. It began with a visual idea really, and you can really imagine it being a moment in a live set with a light show fully synced with the drums.” “Betelgeuse” “Just before lockdown, I decided it would be cool to multi-sample the piano in my studio so I could play it at home. And that’s what you can hear on this track. It’s quite a laborious process, and I hadn’t fully soundproofed my studio, so in the background, there’s these vague sounds of buses passing by and people talking in the corridor. It means when you use that in a track, the piano has this really nice but odd texture to it. The track’s pronounced ‘Beetlejuice,' like the film, and named after a star in the nebula.” “The Last Transmission” feat. London Grammar “This features Hannah from London Grammar—I’d done quite a lot of work on their last album and we became good friends. I had this idea of someone sending their final message from outer space, just before they disappear. It had this sample of a repeated message and then I got Hannah to sing it as it was begging for something a bit more human and less mechanical. Sometimes the music calls out for a full song and other times I do that classic dance music thing of honing in on one phrase and repeating it but changing it slowly over time.” “Ultraviolet” “‘Ultraviolet’ was the first track I finished for the record, and I’d been listening to a lot of krautrock with those motorik drum sounds on. It’s actually the fastest track I’ve ever written BPM-wise. I wanted to end on this big expansive note, and this is grand, fast, and quite euphoric.”

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