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CD Review - Gold Frapp

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by Andrea Palpant


Eclectic Electric Seduction might be the unofficial subtitle to Felt Mountain, Allison Goldfrapp's debut album. Known for providing vocals for Tricky and Orbital, Goldfrapp is yet another enticing voice to wind its way from the U.K.


The inside cover photo works well as a visual indicator of her style and sound: The singer sits poised on a pile of wood in a dark forest, head down, bare legs together in a pose that speaks both of age and innocence -- a disconcerting, weathered youthfulness.


Taking cues from the likes of Portishead as well as film-composers John Barry and Ennio Morricone, Goldfrapp and co-composer Will Gregory entwine layers upon layers of melancholy, playfulness and mourning. Each song indulges a different mood.


"Lovely Head" opens the collection with Goldfrapp's haunted whistling, then sails through a series of surreal, electronic melodies. "Human" weaves smooth strings with thick trip-hop beats and jazzy brass. She is, as she sings, "deliciously wired."


On "Deer Stop," she adopts coy, edgy, almost Bjork-like vocals while the title track offers the husky liquid blues of what might be Billie Holiday in space. And if that isn't enough sampling already, "Oompa Radar" brings out Brechtian cabaret in the comforting, cacophonous style of Tom Waits.


Still, with all her references to past and present musical heroes and eras, Goldfrapp stands on her own new feet. Bleak and beautiful, her 21st-century noir visions leave the listener with the kind of longing one has when watching a child -- singing among the ruins.