A GUEST POSTING by SWEDISH HERRING ACCIDENT
Bangin’ Ali G – The Goldfrapp ICA
Goldfrapp, a chameleon duo comprising frontperson Alison Goldfrapp and wunderkind Will Gregory, are a mind-boggling combination of sex-kitten and geeky recluse. And I’m not saying which is which – Alison Goldfrapp’s never happier than when she’s locking herself away on a creative retreat while Will Gregory’s got a very colourful musical history stretching back to the 1980s.
They’ve made seven albums between 1999’s Felt Mountain and Silver Eye in 2017. Each one is an artistic world in itself – a perfect creation encompassing persona, design, costume, dance, sounds and songs. Whether it’s Seventh Tree’s wounded nature girl, the exploration of identity in Songs of Us or the Erotic Disco Vixen in Black Cherry.
For some reason, the dancier Goldfrapp tracks lend themselves to excellent remixes. Perhaps they inspire DJs more than other acts, so Goldfrapp CD singles aren’t packed with unlistenable extended dub mixes; they often genuinely take the music further beyond the original intent.
This compilation is not a Greatest Hits tour (I’ve only taken tracks from four albums); it’s a selection of ten remixes that sum up one specific mood – Goldfrapp’s unstoppably sexy driving bass synth sound. I’ve bypassed the otherworldly ballads, overlooked the mystical goddess who wants to swim in the sea under a full moon and distilled the best of the pulsing, pounding firecracking explosives. Don’t wait until Friday. Strap in. Slap your headphones on. Get the hoover out. These tunes will help you get the house cleaned before you know it!
Twist [Schaffhäuser & Wessling Mix] (Originally from the album Black Cherry)
Twist is one that particularly gives itself to brilliant remixes. This version not only passes Rule #1 (filthy grinding bassline) but also has a hint of Alison’s Theremin work – surprisingly lewd on stage. Twist also deals with one of the ongoing paradoxes in Goldfrapp – how does such glossy metropolitan music come from someone who just wants “to run away with you, your caravan and rabbit stew?” We’re dealing with a wood-nymph here, who’s happy getting dirty (and then cleaning up with Swarfega Fingers).
Ooh La La [Phones re-edit] (Originally from the album Supernature)
Goldfrapp reviews are invariably meticulous comparisons of each song’s similarities to whatever giant’s shoulders Will and Alison happen to be standing on this time. Yet as a collection, Goldfrapp’s work has a set of sounds, themes and looks that’s distinctive and unmistakeable. You can’t say that about Rachel Stevens who, at the time of Ooh La La was clinging to Goldfrapp’s creative coat-tails with her Comic Relief single Some Girls.
Fly Me Away [C2 Rmx 4] (Originally from the album Supernature)
Here C2, shamelessly drops this mid-tempo ballad on top of Giorgio Moroder’s I Feel Love bassline, elevating it to a proper disco number. There are three C2 Rmxs of Fly Me Away on the CD single (numbered 1,2 and 4 – somewhere in an attic is number 3. They say you can hear its cries on dark lonely nights).
Number 1 [Dominatrix Remix] (Originally from the album Supernature)
Oh, this is lush, irresistible and relentless. This remix totally enriches and lifts Number 1 – popular with the live audiences. Will Gregory missed the end of the 2017 tour because half the band caught the flu – at least that’s the official line. Alison once said, “He only goes to places where they do nice food and the sun’s shining,” which would certainly rule out Brixton in November.
Rocket [Tiesto Remix] (Originally from the album Head First).
Despite the pink jumpsuit, the windswept hairdo and flamboyant delivery, Alison’s very deadpan in interviews: “I sometimes think I’m the crappiest popstar ever.” This is soaring, zooming pop elevated to heady heights by Tiesto’s second-stage liquid fuel booster remix.
Renault Clio (Va Va Voom) Advert 2
They did an advert! Yes, this is the original Renault Clio advert from 2002. It replaced the long-running “Papa?” “Nicole?” campaign and sounds like it could have been an out-take from Felt Mountain. Its effortless elegance certainly runs rings around Thierry Henry’s later “What is Cool?” attempts.
Train [Village Hall Mix]/ Train [album mix] (Originally from the album Black Cherry)
Because none of the official mixes are as good as these two spliced together. It’s easily to imagine that the Goldfrapp artistic partnership is split perfectly between Alison’s designs and lyrics and Will’s fine-tuned musical sensibilities. At the time of Train, he said, “I get freaked out when I think about us all sitting down at 10 in the morning in front of Logic set at 120bpm, 4/4. I think we all need something that’s our own, that you feel is special.”
Ride a White Horse [Serge Santiago remix] (Originally from the album Supernature)
Here, Serge Santiago channels Giorgio Moroder’s extended mix of Life In Tokyo by Japan. There’s a real drummer on here beating the crap out of that snare – his name is Dave Power. This mix completely lifts what is otherwise a rather plodding song about wanting to be taken “dancing at the disco” and to go horse-riding. What is this? Bianca Jagger’s 1977 Studio 54 shenanigans?
Alive [Dave Aude Remix] (Originally from the album Head First).
Altogether more dynamic, more momentum and more atmosphere. Will Gregory’s neon-drenched soundscape makes Alive sound like a musical version of Jacky magazine while Dave Aude’s remix plucks it out of the late 70s and updates it to, ooh, the mid 80s? Will’s a complex guy – one moment he’s cutting an anorak-clad, rucksack-wearing, country-dwelling figure, the next he’s on Radio 4’s Great Lives championing Irish author Flann O’Brien.
Strict Machine [Injection Mix] (Originally from the album Black Cherry).
Strict Machine has been closing Goldfrapp’s live sets lately. When Goldfrapp originally played Strict Machine live on the Black Cherry tour, Alison wore her iconic space-age air hostess outfit with thigh-length patent leather boots. I rather like to think that’s what she was wearing a few years earlier: “I moved to London at 17 and worked as a tea lady in a university. I had a trolley with this huge tea urn and went around serving the professors.”
Systemagic [album mix] (Originally from the album Silver Eye)
For once, none of the remixes are as good as the album version. Silver Eye is proof positive that Goldfrapp’s quirky, unpredictable design values never sleep. To create the imagery for this album she took herself to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands with its startling black sand beaches. The artistry is an amazing combination of colour, dance, make-up and dress. It shows how Goldfrapp rise above lazy categorisation – this album was variously described as 80s futurism, synthpop and stomping glam rock. The way this track rumbles on after the ending reminds me of Douglas Adams, “What thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying, ‘And another thing…’ twenty minutes after admitting he’s lost the argument.” Thunder on, Goldfrapp – long may your basslines keep throbbing.