The enigmatic and creative Goldfrapp will release their seventh studio album Silver Eye this week on March 31st on Mute records. This is the follow-up to their 2013 Tales of Us. They have pooled together an eclectic mixture of collaborators for the new album after Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory (the band) spent 10 days in Dallas with John Congleton, Grammy-winning producer of St. Vincent, John Grant and Wild Beasts.
Back in London they teamed up with electronic composer Bobby Krlic, aka The Haxan Cloak. Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams added interesting guitar textures and to round it all off the album was mixed by David Wrench (The xx, fka Twigs, Caribou). On making the album Will Gregory stated. “I think writing an album is like being lost in a wood. You’re trying to figure out an interesting path. You don’t know whether it’s going to be a dead end or somewhere interesting and you never know when to stop because around the corner some beautiful vista might open up.”
In making the visuals for the album Alison went to Fuerteventura, a volcanic island in the Canary Islands. All of them were devised and shot by her. The stark landscape of these and her photographs complement the music on the album. There is an element of her style that reminds me very much of David Bowie, especially his Ashes to Ashes video. She is becoming increasingly more and more in demand as a photographer, Alison has been commissioned for other projects in the past including shooting Laura Mvula live at Somerset House. Not surprising as she and the band have been innovative in their output.
Track one Anymore contains vociferous elements of electronica. It is dark, brooding and haunting. A confident beginning. Systemagic has a strong electro-pop vibe. (The chorus reminded me of Donna Summer!). I had to listen to a few times for it to grow on me.
Tigerman complements her haunting vocals perfectly which its dreamy landscape. This keeps a wonderful ethereal rhythm throughout. Become the One begins sounding like a Tangerine Dream song before an industrial starkness comes to the fore. It is hypnotic and feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in a sci-fi film. “Become the one you know you are” has an affirming refrain to it with a surreal voice-box effect. Faux Suede Drifter has a dreaminess about it reminiscent of debut album Felt Mountain. Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals are velvety and poetic but the first half of the song didn’t go anywhere for me. It wasn’t until about three-and-a-half minutes in it started to sound more interesting before unfortunately fading back out again.
Zodiac Black has all the abstract qualities that we know Goldfrapp for: moody electronica and evocative metallic waves. This song really took a few listens but the more I play it the more I like it. Beast That Never Was combines a persistent sounding synth drum beat. It has an element of both the electropop of 2005’s Supernature and the folk-lore pagan narratives of 2008’s Seventh Tree. Everything is not Enough sounded like a stand-out track with more of a driving tempo and in my opinion, should be a single. Current single Moon in your Mouth follows a similar vein with its moving electronic vibrations. Other recent single Ocean ends the album on a strident beat reminiscent of Love Strict Machine. Another stand-out.
At first glance it appears there is nothing especially new on this album (and anyway, Goldfrapp are so inventive do they need to create a “new” sound? They are forerunners in combining hypnotic landscapes with lush electronica). However, the more I listen to this, the more surprises and layers I find to it. Keep listening to really appreciate what’s going on underneath.