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Album of the Month: Fred P ‘States Of Bliss’

The New York–born, Berlin-based house devotee conjures mindful magic on his new album for Private Society

Fred P has some bold ambitions for his latest album, ‘States Of Bliss’. It is his third in a year — which is ambitious in itself — and one he describes as “a collection of musical imaginations that truly inspire one to actions of positivity and balance”. Big claims for sure, but if anyone’s music can make us question and better ourselves, it’s the mystic depths and serene spirituality of this famously low-key New Yorker.

Peterkin has been based in Berlin for a decade now. Although it’s a place known for serious techno and bleak winters, the city has done nothing to dilute the sheer beauty and romance of his productions. As a DJ, Fred cuts loose into anything from gospel to tribal to Latin house. And in the studio he has occasionally veered into more crisp tech and outer space techno, such as on 2021’s ‘Reminiscent Era’. But even if the arrangements become more stripped back and the drums more physical, the moods remain resolutely heady.

His two previous albums in the last 12 months (‘Abstract Soul’ and ‘Oasis’) have been explorations of the deep using broken beat, ambient and house as rhythmic vehicles to transport you in on yourself, as well as out to the farthest corners of the cosmos. ‘States Of Bliss’, though, feels like the most complete of the three. It’s expansive in style, but unified by an emotional narrative that mirrors the ups and downs of everyday life. In the artist’s case, that’s often defined by the rigours of international travel. Hours spent in the grey areas between being awake and being asleep, early morning rises and late night dances. In hotel rooms, on planes, then back home at the studio in Berlin where he now takes care of everything from production to mastering via the final mixdown.

Fans of Fred’s gorgeously ornate work as Black Jazz Consortium will soon warm to the tracks here. ‘In The Flow’ kicks off with the playful feel of a Friday night full of promise and potential. The kick-drums are excited and peppered with lively percussion as a Cassy vocal sample swirls about the mix and a lush synth solo lights up the second half. The slightly darker ‘Art Life (Tribal Dub)’ is bittersweet — you’re still dancing but you know sunrise is just around the corner and the party will soon end. Fear not, however, because the life-affirming chords of ‘Elevated States’ warm you through like a rush of dopamine, and the restorative jazz-funk of ‘Live Your Way’ reaches out a hand to gently lead you back to the dancefloor where irresistible broken beats await.

Fred’s signature synth work features on every track here, but it comes fully to the fore across the painterly pads of ‘River’, ambient-jungle- jazz of ‘NY’ (which was actually recorded a decade ago), and in the celestial suspense of ‘Awakening Desire’. At times it’s bright and crystalline, cutting through the haze to awaken a different sense. At others it’s smeared, smudged and blurry-edged like a psychedelic dream. Either way, there is both heart and art in what you hear.

Following those roomy and ruminative cuts, ‘High Fusion’ brings back the good times with mellifluous jazz-funk that bubbles with busily plucked bass and expressive keys that Sun Ra would surely admire.  It all adds up to an album that reiterates what we already know about Fred P: he’s a thinker, a dreamer and a fantasist. His fantasy, though, is rooted in the belief that music is a healer. In the case of ‘States Of Bliss’, he’s not wrong.

Buy ‘States Of Bliss’ here

Want more? Read Bruce Tantum's recent interview with Fred P here