Felt Mountain

She left her mind somewhere in a field in Wiltshire...

She left her mind somewhere in a field in Wiltshire. Having crooned over [a]Tricky[/a]’s fractured beatscapes, guested on [a]Orbital[/a]’s ‘Snivilisation’, and hung with Add N To (X), when it came to constructing her own record, Alison Goldfrapp left urban claustrophobia behind for the eerie quiet of a country cottage.

As such, ‘Felt Mountain’ is cold, desolate and old-fashioned. Despite her pedigree and choice of collaborators (Portishead‘s Adrian Utley, PJ Harvey cohort John Parish), this is an album that draws on the orchestral ululations of Roy Budd and Ennio Morricone more than the beats of the Bristol sound. Like Broadcast and Mono, Goldfrapp and collaborator Will Gregory seem stuck pirouetting around that brief period in the late-’60s when the scores to movies like [I]The Ipcress File[/I] and [I]Get Carter[/I] were the coolest sounds around. So we get a lot of icy harpsichord on ‘Paper Bag’ and ‘Lovely Head’, and endless John Barry-esque heaving strings throughout.

This is not a bad concept, except Portishead got there first, and managed to update the spy-film vibe with a hefty dose of break-driven twilight melancholia.

But there’s no attempt made to bring ‘Felt Mountain’ into the 21st century: on ‘Human’, Goldfrapp sounds like Shirley Bassey, but with none of the dance nous the Welsh warbler brought to her collaboration with the Propellerheads. She needs to stop wandering the hills, and get back down the disco.