It’s been three years since George FitzGerald’s excellent debut album, Fading Love, was released, showcasing the London artist as a skilled electronic musician who blends the likes of poppy house and garage, with the more hardcore levels of techno. Things changed for the artist, though, when approaching his sophomore effort. All That Must Be is a record with its emotional spirit fractured between two cities close to FitzGerald’s heart: Berlin and London. FitzGerald’s decade-long stint in the German capital came to an end, which saw him relocate back to his native London.
This is what the narrative of All That Must Be is structured around, as it’s a record that handles and comes to terms with the unfolding of upheaval, dealing with change, and accepting what cards life has dealt you. There’s a visual and sensual transformation on this record that reflects this, with FitzGerald returning to a live setting, with an emphasis on the more ambient, reflective side of electronic music. FitzGerald mirrors this thesis by stating that he wanted to showcase, “The uncanniness you feel when a massive event happens in your life”, where, “Everything looks and sounds the same but it’s somehow different. Your surroundings are less intelligible.” It’s very impressively done too as All That Must Be is a very subtle record, with the experimentation that we’ve come to love from FitzGerald.
The album begins with an epic nature, with ‘Two Moons Under’ reverberating, swirling and thumping out of the speakers with sheer ferocity. Opening like a grand-scale, tightly-whipped saga, it continues to grow and grow until its deafening finale. As an opening track it’s an incredible statement of intent. In fact, a large proportion of All That Must Be feels like a systematic surge forward, as the record constantly evolves into different sub-species of electronica. First single from the record, ‘Burns’, finds George FitzGerald pushing relentlessly forward, an ever-evolving slice of electronic innovation. Described by FitzGerald as a, “Strange studio experiment making a beatless chant out of loads of contrasting vocal samples” which, “Then morphed over time”, it’s a sinuous composition that has real physicality which, much like the whole album, feels astonishingly opulent.
There’s hints of melancholia throughout the record, too, but none more so than the Lil Silva collaboration, ‘Roll Back’. It’s a reflective number that kicks off with: “Is it cold when you’re dreaming?/Is it cold when you’re under?” by Bedford artist Lil Silva. It has all the makings of an after-hours track, and this dusk soundtrack is the perfect background for a song that speaks candidly of loss and the necessity of carrying on. There’s a dynamic chemistry between the two artists, and it’s evident from this honest aperture.
No doubt the best song on the record, though, is his collaboration with Brighton’s Bonobo. ‘Outgrown’ expertly showcases FitzGerald’s renowned intricacy and complexity, alongside the emotive ambience that made Bonobo’s Migration so beautiful. Essentially acting as one of the central moments of the record, and a piece that truly structures the record, ‘Outgrown’ sees FitzGerald further his oculus harmony of diversified soundscapes, as well as a sound that belongs in an Ibiza club. There’s a distinct juxtaposition between the opening of the track and its crescendo, as if it’s soundtracking a hero’s journey. The track applies an affective piano tone for its central narrative, in which FitzGerald subtly refers to a simple submission of his ambidextrous wall of sound. FitzGerald is an incredibly efficient technical artist but, on All That Must Be, he’s shown much more than that. He’s opened himself up, and reflected on his life with a record that will make you dance, observe and cerebrate all at the same time. Essentially, though, it’s building on FitzGerald’s dance capabilities, and makes him one of the most important British electronic artists.