“A well put together set of grooves to help carry the winter with intermissions of unexplainable melancholy.”
Actual Life 3 is the third entry from London-based record producer Fred Again formally named Fred John Philip Gibson. This series of albums started in the wake of the COVID lockdown and is a series where Fred intertwines pieces of his life into cohesive bodies of work. With the first entry being released in April 2021, these albums send out subtle messaging into the life of the well-accomplished producer. Having had much commercial success behind the scenes producing for various artists such as Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy, Headie One, FKA Twigs, Brian Eno, and many more while also earning awards such as Brit Awards, “Producer of the Year”, it is no surprise that when starting to release his own music, he quickly gained traction.
Where Fred gained this traction and desire from fans for him to release more is through his various DJ sets with his most recent Boiler Room gaining popularity and amassing 8.4 million views in 3 months as of writing this review. This DJ set would serve as a preview of the talent that would be shown on Actual Life 3 and even show some songs on the album in a cohesive set like Kammy (like i do), Danielle (smile on my face), and Nathan (still breathing). The energy that Fred Again summoned during his Boiler Room is nothing short of amazing.
To begin reviewing this album, the best way to describe it is that it is a well put together set of grooves to help carry the winter with intermissions of unexplainable melancholy.
The album begins with “Eyelar (shutters) ” which is a head-bobbing tune that serves as a great tone setter as to what you are getting into. Constantly throughout the track, you hear various drops and voices from people in Fred’s life, this adds a feel to the track where it feels like you are there going through Fred’s life with a decent tune accompanying it.
This song transitions into a 3 track run of groovy tunes with my favorite being “Kammy (like i do) because of the hard-hitting drums.
Fred switches up the tempo with “Berwyn (all that i got is you)” which feeds into the description of the album having intermissions of unexplainable melancholy. This song is a great example of how Fred is able to mix various audio clips behind astounding sounds to help drive home the many moods and emotions he is trying to convey throughout the album.
The album from this point starts to have a theme of being resilient and moving on with all songs having a different tone in how they convey it. Starting with “Bleu (better with time)” which follows up after “Berwyn (all that i got is you)” and serves as a tune to lighten up the mood after such a somber track. This song is definitely the most upbeat out of all the other songs on the album.
The songs that would proceed after this would be “Nathan (still breathing)”, “Danielle (smile on my face)”, “Kelly (end of a nightmare)”, “Mustafa (time to move you)”, and “Clara (the night is dark)”. Fred would use samples from different artists, including 070 Shake, Mustafa the Poet, Kelly Zutrau, and Clara Ward, in all of these songs to help him convey messages about moving on and getting better while also weaving in mournful lyrics and sending out love.
Finally, Fred would close the album with “Winnie (End of Me)”, a euphoric conclusion to an album that serves as a look into what Fred was feeling while making this album.
My final review for this album is that it is an enjoyable body of work that is a nice spin on the current crop of electronic music coming out. To refer to the legendary and mythical artist Aphex Twin, the nature of electronic music is that it is music to be enjoyed, not critiqued and reviewed like other genres. Every song brings a certain mood and place which is the most important part of the music. If the music draws no feeling, what is the point of listening to it? The inclusion of various samples to help convey certain emotions and messages is masterful and adds to the layers that can be extracted from it. All these elements allow for an album a blast to listen to in any setting or time.
Kammy (like i do), Danielle (smile on my face), Mustafa (time to move you)
Written by Makhai Porter