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White Noise: George Fitzgerald – Shackled EP

Friday, 6 January 2012

George Fitzgerald – Shackled EP


Feel Like

Over the last year, George Fitzgerald has more than made a name for himself trading in soulful Garage and Bass tunes, releasing stellar singles for Hotflush and Aus amongst other esteemed labels. More than anything, he has shown himself to be consistent, with every release and remix bringing another slice of RnB-tinged excellence to the table. On the other hand, his output has been a touch one-note up until now, not always sounding identical but regularly mining the same emotional and technical territories. Does his latest single sound any different? And does it matter anyway when the productions are so consistently fantastic?

The title track makes this a difficult question to answer, because while it sounds exactly like a George Fitzgerald track, it also represents to me the greatest track the producer has ever put out. Expertly assembled, crisp snares and an atmospheric pitchbent synth loop rise to prominence with a fantastic clipped vocal sample, showcasing Fitzgerald’s comfort and mastery over the genre by the sheer quality of the build-up. After anticipation reaches fever pitch, all these sounds drop away to a single-note synth tone and rattling sub-bass, and by the time it all comes together and the second drop comes closer you’ll already be in love. The track feels more culmination than iteration; a producer who knows exactly what he’s doing making note-perfect dance music.

The B-side gratifyingly shows Fitzgerald moving away from familiar territory, but does so to varying degrees of success. Feel Like mines classic House sounds; a sharp organ melody, an emotive vocal sample and crisp kicks and snares, but it manages to keep the formula interesting. Fitzgerald’s great knack for timing partly plays into this, with the tune building flawlessly from the second breakdown, but the tune also works in the respect that it never quite takes off, building up tension and then offering a rest rather than an explosion, a great technique that feels slightly neglected in today’s dance climate. Final track Friends In High Places slows it down all the way, with lush accumulative pads building in Techno fashion over a sophisticated drum pattern and hushed vocals and clicks. It’s a pleasant enough tune, but is nowhere near as distinctive as its sibling tracks; feeling a tad unnecessary rather than overtly disappointing.

I can’t imagine anyone disputing that Fitzgerald is a master of his own corner of the dance world, and the first two tracks here will  without a doubt set pulses racing on the dancefloor. It’s gratifying to hear him extend his reach to other styles, and Feel Like is a clear success, but I’m going to wait for his next release before deciding whether he’s a brilliant and varied producer or just really great at what he does.


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