Alien Skin


This is the first in my series of favourite musical works that continue to inspire my work as Alien Skin.

Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain is the stunning work of British electronic music duo, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. The pair is responsible for producing one of the finest, most elegant, charming and gracious debut albums I have heard.

Felt Mountain artworkSigned to London based Mute Records, and thus label mates with iconic artists like Depeche Mode and Nick Cave, Goldfrapp recorded their opus over a protracted six month period. The epic results achieved by the duo were certainly not in evidence at its inception. They rented a Wiltshire bungalow in the English countryside and undisturbed, began their untested musical collaboration.

Goldfrapp wrote the lyrics and co authored the music with Gregory. Thematically, the album is one of isolation, reminiscence, loneliness and imagination. Alison's vocal performance on Felt Mountain, is, I believe, nothing short of stunning. A restrained sensuality that draws the listener closer and closer to her. It almost becomes an obsessive experience. The musical backdrop, often inspired by filmic stylization is vast and cinematic. A vibrant cauldron of melancholic electronica, dashes of tasteful cabaret, a sixties retrospective, including some very icy moments from what can only feel like the cold war period are all stirred together by Gregory in a production which is, in a word, breathtaking.

Here are my favorite three songs from 'Felt Mountain':

Lovely Head the opening song is one of the finest examples of being sold on an album within the first 30 seconds. The ethereal, mountain top on a frosty thick cloudy night, whistling, is so electric to the senses, it becomes an aural drug. All before Alison even opens her mouth. This performance completes the initial experience and realisation that this body of work is a unique excursion into a colourful mind and senses trip.

Paper Bag is exquisite! A lonesome story of forlorn love. The melody and its vocal delivery is so delicate, so fragile, it makes me want to protect her in my embrace. I love the play with shuffling rhythms and a pseudo harpsichord. This is one of Felt Mountain's most cinematic productions, and I can almost image watching its images on the big screen, while the world outside is a dark, frosty forest high on an isolated mountain peak.

Pilots is the song that first caught my attention and brought me to Goldfrapp. I saw its wonderfully cold James Bondish video clip on TV and immediately fell in love with the whole idea of the artist and their work. The floating, atmospheric quality of the song was a magical gift to my ears. The muted melancholia mixed with such charm and beauty made me an instant fan of Goldfrapp.

Whether you agree with the intensity with which I express these sentiments, I don't think you can deny that Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain is a stunning debut release, both unique and worthy of attention. Artists that create such an atmosphere of charm and dark, gracious melodic beauty are often rare.


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