Dusting Off... Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain
What is it?
Released in September 2000, Felt Mountain is the debut album from British electronic duo Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory - collectively known, of course, simply as Goldfrapp. Although the duo's debut earned them a nomination for the 2001 Mercury Music Prize (won that year for the first of two occasions by PJ Harvey), the album wasn't a huge hit and didn't even break into the UK Album Chart's Top 40. It wasn't until their third album Supernature, spearheaded by the electro / glam rock stomp of 'Ooh La La', that they finally broke through and became regular fixtures on the airwaves. That album peaked at No. 2, and their subsequent releases have all been regular fixtures in or around the top five.
Felt Mountain, though, is a bit of a different beast. It isn't as hard-edged as some of their later albums and where Supernature is all glorious glam rock sleaze and fizzing synths, their debut is dreamy and tangential, with a much broader field of influences at work. Between this and their second album, Black Cherry, you can hear a sort of evolution as they try to condense and crystallise their sound.
The record veers from the haunting, oft-sampled whistle of 'Lovely Head', through the baroque, jazz and Eastern influences on 'Brown Paper Bag', to the fuzzy bossa of 'Human' and the downright hallucinogenic 'Oompa Radar', featuring a full-on circus waltz. It's a relatively downtempo album by the standard of their ore recent records, but it really takes you on a journey, climaxing in the dreamlike 'Utopia'.
Why should I revisit?
Goldfrapp are perhaps one of the more underrated electronic acts and their charismatic singer deserves to be in the company of likes of Kate Bush, Bjork, Karin Dreijer-Andersson and the aforementioned PJ Harvey as one of the most creative female artists around. Felt Mountain has a breadth of unfettered imagination and freedom about it and it's a really different record from most of the things released in the same era.
Who will enjoy it?
If you're a fan of any of the above artists but have never really given Goldfrapp's back catalogue much of a listen, then dig in – we promise, you'll be very pleasantly surprised.