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Music review: Goldfrapp – We Are Glitter

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When Goldfrapp, the electro glam pop duo based in Bath, UK first released Felt Mountain (2000), I was mesmerised. Their work was unlike anything I’d ever heard before – at times, it was very classical with rich, sweeping orchestral snippets reminiscent of The Sound of Music. At other points, it was carnivalesque and sinister, as invoked by various synthesiser sounds: it warned you to not stay out after dark at the fairground. Six years later, the album still merits listening.

However, vocalist Alison Goldfrapp and musical collaborator Will Gregory decided to take their music in a slightly different direction. Black Cherry, the follow-up to their debut, showed less musical breadth than its predecessor but it marked the development of the duo’s preferred aesthetic.

Creatively and commercially, things continue to improve for Goldfrapp. With the release of Supernature in March 2006 in the US (in the UK, summer of 2005), they achieved platinum-selling status in England. The pair also claim that this work best reflects their ‘split personalities’ and continues to explore the ends of their creative spectrum.

Alison GoldfrappGoldfrapp herself remarks that “It sums up a lot of the things that inspire us… (we’re) driven by the idea of what nature is exactly, and concepts like human versus nature and human versus machine.” Gregory explains this theory in practice: “(it) beats you into submission with a really big chorus” (Smith Galtney, Time Out New York Mar 2-8 2006, 22). Though this comment is made about ‘Ooh La La’ (the first single on Supernature), it is a great way to sum up their what they are trying to achieve in their music.

It makes perfect sense then that Goldfrapp, being at the top of their creative game should release a remix album. What better tracks to choose from than those from Supernature? Not that remixes are new territory for them. DJ-producer Marco Haas, better known as T. Raumschmiere had already remixed "Train" from Black Cherry, and he returns for another contribution for We Are Glitter (Oct 2006) – remixing "‘Lovely 2 C U".

There are many familiar names on this remix effort. Mùm bring their melodic, ambient sound to "You Never Know" and "Number 1"; Benny Benassi continues T. Raumschmiere’s glitchy microhouse vibe with his version of "Ooh La La"; the producers DFA bring their playful, percussive hijinks (also responsible for art-rock outfit The Rapture’s signature sound) to "Slide In"; industry heavyweight Carl Craig takes us back to the 80s with a chiptune-riddled "Fly Me Away" under the moniker ‘C2’, and lastly François K (as Fk-Ek) treats us to a dancefloor filling hard techno version of "Ride A White Horse".

The remaining artists provide equally memorable offerings. Ewan Pearson’s Disco Odyssey Part 1 mix of "Ride A White Horse" is erotic and makes the most of Alison’s siren-like voice – completely different to the Fk-Ek remix. Both remixes of "Satin Chic" (by The Shortwave Set, and Dimension 11 of the Flaming Lips) had haunting echoes of Felt Mountain which their unusual and ethereal instrumentation.

However, everyone loves a thumping hard techno hit, and right in the middle of the compilation Alan Braxo and Fred Falke give us their remix of "Number 1". Goldfrapp do leave their audience with a special treat: to finish the mix, they include their very own remix of "Strict Machine" from Black Cherry which was also used on the film soundtrack to the recently released Miami Vice.

Though I personally didn’t like Black Cherry, We Are Glitter is coaxing me into giving Goldfrapp’s Supernature some serious consideration. Fans of Goldfrapp would be mad to miss this remix album, and I suspect that it’s going to help them pick up lots of new followers.

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    mary castillo