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Felt Mountain , 6.5/10
Black Cherry , 4/10
Supernature (2005), 5/10
Seventh Tree (2008), 5/10
Head First (2010), 5/10

Alison Goldfrapp (a former fine art student who has worked with Tricky, Peter Gabriel and Orbital) is a gothic, decadent, chanteuse that sings cryptic lyrics in the chilling tone of an agonizing lover over Will Gregory's subtle, gentle, noir arrangements of electronic and acoustic instruments. There is something stately about her dejected crooning in the singles Lovely Head (Mute, 2000), superbly contrasting nostalgic whistling, stately strings, expressionistic synths and a chirping harpsichord (basically deconstructing the easy-listening muzak of the Sixties), and Utopia (Mute, 2000), a dreamy prayer in a stronger exotic-tinged vortex of instruments (even reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins), as if she was fighting the forces of human destiny, not just describing her private sorrow. The similarities with the greatest metaphysical chanteuse of all times, Nico, end here though, as the balladeer's vocal range is surprisingly broad (and mostly sounds like Fiona Apple and Liza Minnelli, with occasional nods to Marlene Dietrich and Siouxsie Sioux), while Gregory's scores are inspired by Angelo Badalamenti, Barry Adamson, horror-film soundtracks, classical music, electronica, Squarepusher's drum'n'bass and Portishead's trip-hop. The album Felt Mountain (Mute, 2000) is simultaneously less creepy and more elegant, sexier and slower. Strings and horns are employed in an ever more subliminal fashion. She whispers with velvet voice Paper Bag and Pilots and seems to fall asleep inside the melisma of Deer Stop. But for true magic one has to check the surreal county-fair atmospheres of the instrumental Oompa Radar and Horse Tears, that manages to bridge renaissance song, childish nursery rhyme and Bessie Smith's blues. Her yodeling vowels toy with a disjointed industrial soundscape Felt Mountain.

Very little can be salvaged from Black Cherry (Mute, 2003). Its lushly-arranged erotic-futuristic synth-pop rarely attains any credibility (Crystalline Green, Black Cherry, Hairy Trees). Goldfrapp's producer Will Gregory seems to be running out of ideas rapidly. Train and Strict Machine were the singles.

Supernature (Mute, 2005) is not as awful as its predecessor but it is even more derivative of synth-pop and disco-music of the early 1980s. Perhaps Gregory decided to copy the classics instead of taking a risk with new ideas. Ooh La La, Ride a White Horse, Lovely 2C U, Fly Me Away pay off.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Elio Manco)

Alison Goldfrapp (ha iniziato come studentessa d’arte, ed ha lavorato con Tricky, Peter Gabriel e gli Orbital) è una cantante decadente e gotica che canta le sue criptiche canzoni con il tono di una amante agonizzante su arrangiamenti musicali, acustici ed elettronici, del misterioso Will Gregory anch’essi circondati da quest’aura "noir" .

C’è qualcosa di nobile nel suo modo sommesso di cantare nel singolo Lovely Head (Mute, 2000), che contrasta splendidamente con il fischio e l’aria futuristca del sintetizzatore. Anche in Utopia (Mute, 2000), si sente come se lei non solo stesse descrivendo la sua tristezza, ma stesse combattendo le forze del destino umano. La similitudine con la più grande cantante metafisica di tutti i tempi, Nico, si ferma però qui, anche se la capacità vocale di questa cantante è sorprendentemente ampia (generalmente vicina a Fiona Apple e Liza Minnelli, con occasionali accenni a Marlene Dietrich e Siouxsie Sioux), invece gli arrangiamenti di Gregory sono ispirati da Angelo Badalamenti, dalle colonne sonore dei film di horror di Barry Adamson, la musica classica, quella elettronica degli Squarepusher ed al trip-hop spettrale e decadente degli ormai mitici Portishead.


L’album Felt Mountain (Mute, september 2000) è simultaneamente meno scorrevole e più elegante, più seducente e più lento. Le chitarre ed i fiati lavorano sinergicamente in una maniera subliminale. Human e Deer Stop sono le due nuove gemme; ascoltando Paper Bag si notano, tra le righe, reminescenze un po’ retrò, stile anni ’60, e sembrerebbe proprio la colonna sonora di un film di fantascienza girato in questi anni; e per rendere magiche queste atmosfere da fiaba surreali non bisogna dimenticare di ascoltare la strumentale Oompa Radar e la stupenda Horse Tears, il brano che chiude l’album.

Seventh Tree (2008) sounds like an unfinished album. The songs are mere attempts at crafting a song, the arrangements are inadequate, the rhythms are lazy (no bouncy beats this time) as if the musicians were not motivated to play. Caravan Girl is the melodic standout, Little Bird offers the most rewarding sonic experience.

Head First (Mute, 2010) returned to the original concept: a diligent revival of the synth-pop and disco-music of the early 1980s.

The Singles (2011) is the only album that is truly worth having.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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