on October 6, 2000
Ever see the animated film, or hear the soundtrack for, "Mad Monster Party?" Or, remember when Soft Cell did their version of "You only live twice?"
Well, what I'm trying to do, albeit unsuccessfully, is give you a jist of this album. It's quite hard to do. If Portishead, Massive Attack, early Hooverphonic, or maybe even Morecheeba decided to team up with an orchestra and perform Shirley Bassey (read James Bond) theme songs, you might have this album. This is not a bad thing at all.
I just heard this album while shopping at a local record store. It was so etherial and moody, with such beautiful vocals, that I had to purchase it at once. It is incredible.
It is a dark, enchanting album. It is extremely fresh sounding, yet, at the same time, it is quite nostalgic. Listening to it gives you the feeling that, at any moment, Sean Connery could come walking into the room. In a sense, if it helps, it's kind of as if Shirley Bassey is singing and Portishead are laying down the music, scored by Ennio Morricone or Hugo Montenegro, with a dash of Lalo Schifrin.
It is a very, very enjoyable cd, and one that I think you will truly treasure in your collection.
on July 16, 2005
As others have suggested, Felt Mountain is difficult to describe, so maybe I'll just share my experience: I listened to it once, but wasn't too interested. So I put it aside, then listened to it again a few days later. And then again a few days after that. And ever since, it's maintained a central place in my Ipod playlist.
Certainly after many listens I hear the similarity to Portishead (and maybe Emiliana Torrini)--which is a good thing. But Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory take the lounge sound in a completely different direction. If Portishead plays the notes between the music, Goldfrapp plays the music, and the result truly is intoxicating.
Songs like "Pilots", "Human", "Deer Stop", "Lovely Head", "Utopia"--heck, the entire album--sound like the soundtrack to a movie you'll wish you'd seen. And if some start to evoke the blissful moments of languor we all find too rarely in our own lives, then how much richer we become as a result.
I don't often say this so unequivocally, but if you've found your way to this cd, buy it. Buy it!
on August 2, 2001
It just takes one listen to Alison Goldfrapp's seductive voice to fall under her spell. It all sounds nice and comforting, but once you notice the lyrics of the songs and hear the unorthodox musical flourishes on Felt Mountain, you realise you're in for a slightly more twisted musical journey than you had expected.
A spectacular combination of myriad styles, ranging from Shirley Bassey, John Barry, Bjork, Portishead, Angelo Badalamenti, Burt Bacharach, and Kurt Weill, Goldfrapp and composer Will Gregory have put together an album that sounds oddly familiar, yet highly original. When Goldfrapp starts singing the jazzy chorus to 'Human ("are you human/or a dog"), it sounds like a lounge act from another planet.
Along with 'Human', the dark, sultry 'Lovely Head' ("Frankenstein would want your mind/your lovely head"), the bitter 'Paper Bag ("brown paper bag makes for a hat/when it rains on your head mate/cheers for that"), and the more conventional-sounding 'Pilots' kick off the record in fine fashion. However, the next three songs, the spacy, often indecipherable 'Deer Stop', the gentle, processed yodeling and dreamy scat singing on the title track, and the bizarre brass band flourishes on 'Oompa Radar' all take you into a musical twilight zone, where no musical influence, however odd, is safe.
Felt Mountain's brief sidetrack into the realm of the extremely eccentric sets you up for the album's finest moment, the utterly beautiful, yet sinister 'Utopia'. Over a steady beat and lush instrumentation arranged by Gregory with operatic backing vocals, Goldfrapp sings "I forget who I am/when I'm with you/there's no reason/there's no sense" before gently intoning "fascist baby" in the chorus. Just when you think the song is about a lover's emotional dominance, Goldfrapp returns with stranger lines like "my dog needs new ears" and "I'm super brain/that's how they made me". The song is amazing, both in the way it sounds, and how hard it is to pin down thematically.
Both Goldfrapp and Gregory shine equally bright on Felt Mountain. Gregory's musical arrangements have a definite cinematic quality to them as well sounding electronic (sans samples) while still emanating warmth. Goldfrapp's vocal talents are second to none; at times I thought wrongly that a theremin was used on the record, but it was in fact Goldfrapp's stunning voice. As she closes off the album in eerily gorgeous singsong-like "la la la"'s that slowly fade out, it's like seeing a beautiful girl run off giggling mischievously right after showing you something disturbing and grotesque. Felt Mountain overflows with unsettling beauty.
on October 3, 2000
Don't get me wrong, this is NOT a carbon copy of Portishead, it's one step forward in the genre. Jazzy, moody and a tad bit strange (this is to be understood as being a COMPLEMENT!), this is really one of the most enjoyable releases right now. Unfortunately, it will probably maintain a low profile due to the spacier tracks on the CD, but to all of you looking for something new and original, don't hesitate for a second. This is the kind of album you can impress your friends with on a casual get-together.
Unlike other reviewers here, I believe "Human" to be one of the stand-out tracks here. There's a real Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Bond-themesong feel to it... Blend in a bit of Ennio Morricone into the whole and you've got a pretty fair idea of how this all sounds... Really good stuff, looking forward to hearing more from (Alison) Goldfrapp.
on March 30, 2003
Until early 2002, my musical tastes had been quite limited - broadway tunes and (some) top forty!! So it was with trepidation that I bought 'Felt Mountain' by Goldfrapp on the recommendation of a friend. But I'm glad I did...
Felt Mountain was my first foray into 'non mainstream' music. From the very first seconds of the first track 'lovely head', with it's solo brass and sombre whistle intro, I knew I was in for a wonderful aural treat...
I don't want to catorgorise Felt Mountain into a particular musical style, but I suppose it could be best described as 'chill out' music, but that description hardly gives it justice. What we have is a wonderful aural soundscape that incorporates traditional classical instruments along side modern synthesisers to create wonderful mellow music, that is not only relaxing, but also creates the most wonderful visual imagery inside.
The special edition CD included contains remixes of various songs in which a concerted effort has been made to create markedly different versions of the songs, including having a male vocalist on the Human calexico mix singing in a non-english language. Also here is an excellent version of 'Physical' (originally by Olivia Newtown John) and a 7+minute mpeg movie called a 'Trip To Felt Mountain'. It is in this movie where we get to spend some time with the duo that is Goldfrapp and discover how they created this wonderful CD and to view some spectacular nature imagery.
A special mention should be made of the cover design and photography - all designed by singer Alison Golfrapp herself. We get wonderful, thought proking and peace - inducing imagery of nature and mountains that sits so well with the music. So we actually get music and imagery that complement each other beautifully.
How does one truely define Goldfrapp and their debut CD Felt Mountain?? I would use words like creative, original, innovative, fresh - the list could go on and on. But if you are someone who can appreciate music other than top 40, give Felt mountain a listen and enter a world of inner reflection where music and imagery combine together perfectly ...
on August 15, 2005
Forget the facile comparisons to Bjork and Portishead; you'd have to go back to Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler to find a finer musical evocation of an alpine landscape than the one conjured up by the British duo of Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp (collectively known as Goldfrapp) on their stunning 2000 debut, FELT MOUNTAIN.
Yet, the landscape described in this post-modern song cycle is no idyllic Winter Wonderland, but rather a glistening panorama that is often as sinister as it is beautiful.
Gregory and Goldfrapp herein weave a complex and eclectic musical tapestry of voices, instruments and electronic sounds, and the effect is so vivid as to be practically cinematic. The song, "Lovely Head," for instance, opens with orchestration suggesting vast soaring spaces and whistling winds, and then zooms in, as it were, to Alison Goldfrapp's intimate vocal close-up.
The lyrics, with their allusions to hearts and heads and mouths and bellies seem more biological than allegorical, and references to Frankenstein (in "Lovely Head"), and the confession, "that's how they made me," (in "Utopia") hint at a bio-utopian dream gone awfully awry.
It is not just the words and poetic imagery that convey this sense of wonder and malaise, but the various vocal methods that Goldfrapp employs. She adopts a sexy, world-weary whisper one moment, and octave-climbing yodel the next, and it is all in service of the music. Indeed, her voice often is the music, and her wordless vocalizing becomes yet another instrument on a number of tracks.
In an earlier decade, FELT MOUNTAIN might've been described as "concept album," and the package, with its photos of snow capped peaks, winter forests, and blond paneling (Norwegian wood?), has a thematic completeness to it every bit as quirky and correct as the music. The words, music and visuals create an atmosphere of luxe and beauty, and a feeling of skewed sexuality and emotional longing that are thematic constants in this collection of songs.
All of this is reminiscent of a short poem by Gregory and Goldfrapp's countryman, William Blake (and later set to music by another countryman, Benjamin Britten):
O Rose, thou art sick;
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy;
And his dark, secret love
Does thy life destroy.
In FELT MOUNTAIN, an invisible worm, it seems, has taken up residence in a lovely winter rose.
on February 13, 2002
One year has gone by since the release of this album, i mean the original version of it. It has been in my playlist now for almost a year, and for every month, this is under heavy rotation, together with Bjork's 'Vespertine' and Anja Garbarek's 'Smiling and Waving'. This special edition of 'Felt Mountain' contains bonus remixes of the album tracks, accompanied by 'Utopia' single, now consider yourself the luckiest person on Earth. Here is a description of the album:
The first note of the album is an out-of-place high note, followed by some whistle, leads you into a beautiful village surrounded by mountains. Alison's vocal is mesmerizing, lauguid and frail. 'Paper Bag' is the most acoustic track here, at first listen, one gets the idea that this is a baroquish unplugged album. A little bit of scrutinization will tell you that her voice is wearing this fur coat made of soft ambient electronica, together with the instrumentation here, the string, the harpischord...her voice is seductive like that of a siren, draws you nearer and nearer to her. 'Human' is essentially a Shirley Bassey number with a modern twist to it, i didn't like it and thought it was out of place, but it really grows on you. After that, we have the retroish 'Pilot', the Portishead-like displeasure on 'Deer Stop', the ethereal 'Felt Mountain' and the drunken country 'Oompa Radar'. The single 'Utopia' starts off with Alison's trained soprano voice in the background, then it fades out to make way for Alison's half-spoken, half-sung vocal. Together with the gorgeous sound of harpischord and more...more electronic coating here,the complexity of it can only be matched by Bjork's Vespertine. The low-key 'Horse Tears' is best served with a glass of red wine at 2 am. This fantastic closer provides a very natural and perfect way of ending this album. Almost flawless album, up there with Kate Bush's 'Hounds of Love' and Bjork's 'Vespertine', a cut above Portishead's 'Dummy' and Perry Blake's 'Still Life'.
on January 14, 2005
note:this is an edit/this cd is still growing on me and has become a top-3 album/this is an edit
This CD is very good. Even though it has less than ten tracks, it contains well-crafted, simplistic though quite layered songs.
It begins with the lead single 'LOVELY HEAD' - where Alison Goldfrapp displays her whistling techniques (better than mine, I can't even whistle!) and turns it into a haunting and beatiful song and it is the only song (perhaps for maybe deer stop adn the instrumentals) that I have no idea of the meaning....
'PAPER BAG' follows. It is explicit and acoustic, and one of my favourite songs to sing. Often the fans favourite, and is my equal favourite. I initially would give it around 8/10 but it is is STILL growing on me and now, I give it a 10
HUMAN. 'Are you human, or a dog' is the opening line of the great chorus where Alison shows her great vocal techniques where she really 'belts' out some notes, showing that she can hold a note very well. Note: It is not Are You Human Or A Dud?, like a lot of people think. The most excessible on this album and the third single.
The next track, entitled 'PILOTS' took a while to grow on me. It reminds me of something Portishead would do in one of their songs , and also like something Bjork would sing in her 'Vespertine' album which fans should definatly get (it's on special at $7.99 currently -- on special) if they enjoyed this release. This was the fourth single from this album and another track which I don't think has eached it's peak
'DEER STOP' is an epic masterpiece in my opinion. It shows such raw emotion and is definatly the weirdest which is always a postive thing. It is quite trip-hopish and the lyrics are extremely hard to understand. One may wonder if she is speaking gibberish.....
'FELT MOUNTAIN' is a track where Alison sounds like a bird. And like the next track it has a happy feeling to it and it is instrumental, (other than her bird-like sounds of course), and 'OOMPA RADAR' brings in some clown action and sounds like it belongs in a circus.
FM -- 9/10
OR -- 8/10
'UTOPIA' is overrated but compared only to the other songs on this album. The first five songs are absolutely amazing and this is probably the no. 1 fan favourite on this CD. It has many layers which I am still 'discovering' especially in the third verse. It is a bit more maintream like Human and the second single from ths album peaking at #62 UK. It is clever lyrically though.
'HORSE TEARS' is one of my favourites, and definatly not for the impatient listener. It displayes heaps emotion and is quite good. It is a very complex ballad which only has three lines of lyrics other than gibberish, but it is sung and arranged very well - the song sounds like it only goes for about three minutes, but it actually falls around 5-6 minutes, as it is extremely slow
And by the way, Alison designed the covers and album booklet..... and it sold half a million copies w/w.
I strongly reccomed this to fans of original music, such as
Bjork (as stated above) and Portishead and such. You will not be disapointed - try searching for reviews of 1/2/3 stars - there is only a handful. I recommend this release over thier second release (Black Cherry), which was quite marketing-y, like their new album Supernature.
This CD - 98%
Black Cherry - 87%
on March 22, 2004
I came across this album while performing searches within the electronica category. I first read the reviews, which intrigued me enough to get the album. After hearing the first track Lovely Head captured me with it's spacey, odd, rather cheesy whistling yet mystically glorious instrumentals.
With her sensual voice, and mystical music, Goldfrapp is one of the rarest best artist I have ever listened to. This music is sort of beyond classification, and a an awing factor that I have not seen since the likes of Bjork. As the true genre of electronica should be, Goldfrapp's beautiful voice, and music has uncanny instruments being used as riffs and beats a union of amazing, luminous, unexplainable beauty.
Don't believe any reviews that say this album is an instrumental mess, because it blends together being inventive, peculiar, and outright brilliant simultaneously. This beauty last through the creepy down tempo entrancing Paper Bag, to the mystifying space landscapes of Pilots, the big band tropical feel of Human with it's catchy and seductive arrangements that will have you belly dancing. The circus side show song Oompa Radar makes for a strange experience. The opera vocals and faster tempo trip-hop like song Utopia brings only euphoria with its lovely music and intriguing lyrics.
My only disappointment is that Goldfrapp decided not to display her full range and power on many of her songs. I guess this would inevitably strip it of its rareness and sensuality that it so cleverly displays. Even though every song will not leave you in awe, most will leave you breathless. So, my true rating can't be over a 4.5.
Still, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. My suggestion is to buy Black Cherry in addition, and from there, take the beyond beautiful songs Forever, and Hairy Trees, and replace them with what ever of the three not so great songs on Felt Mountain you choose. Forever and Hairy Trees are a must as to this album to have. This is a voice that must be heard.
on September 25, 2001
It's been awhile since I've been so...."transported" (for lack of a better term) by a disc. Goldfrapp has composed an amazing album including one song, "Utopia", to which I have been listening nonstop. The song has absolutely bewitched me. (I immediately ran out and bought the Utopia EP, which is also well worth the money). Other reviewers have accurately described the sound and atmosphere of this disc as being similar to the soundtrack from a 60's-70's James Bond movie.
Film noirish, cinematic, ethereal, dreamy...all apt descriptions of this fine disc to which I would have awarded 5 stars were it not for tracks 5-7, which I feel are not quite up to par with the other tunes on Felt Mountain. This may change however, with repeated listenings. And yes, this disc most definitely bears many, many repeated spins in the CD player.
So quit reading already and take the fantastic trip to Felt Mountain!