Supernature

Studio Album by released in 2005

Supernature review

Bath, England's singer/composer/keyboardist Allison Goldfrapp began exploring music as a part of her studies as a Fine Art Painting major at Middlesex University, mixing sound, visuals, and performances in her installation pieces. While she was still in college, she appeared on her friend Tricky's 1995 debut Maxinquaye, which led to appearances on albums from other cutting-edge electronic artists, including Orbital's Snivilisation and Add N to X's Avant Hard. By the late '90s, Goldfrapp began honing her own compositions; one of her friends passed some of her demos on to composer Will Gregory. Finding much in common in their musical tastes and approaches, the duo took Allison's surname as the name for their collaboration. With their Black Cherry album, they moved emphatically away from the folky, filmic forays of their debut Felt Mountain to explore edgier, sexier themes. Supernature, their third long-player, continues to probe this more "adult" world, lashing together lascivious electro, cascading synths and the exhumed spirits of artists like Gary Numan and Giorgio Moroder.

From leftfield idiosyncrasy and costumed kitsch, Alison Goldfrapp now finds herself the subject of TV specials, plastered on tube posters and with a top 5 single, Ooh La La, under her belt. Goldfrapp's music may be largely the work of enigmatic one-time soundtrack composer Will Gregory, but Alison's dress sense and Dietrich-like glamour have finally snared the duo some mainstream recognition. Lead single Ooh La La, with its cosmetic sheen and hedonistic pop feel, is a good indicator for the rest of Supernature. The aphotic, flirtatious pulse of tracks like Ride A White Horse and Koko contrast subtly with spectral dream-pieces such as Let It Take U and You Never Know, while Goldfrapp's vocals – dripping here with a digitized sensuality – and Gregory’s arching soundscapes provide textural continuity. One of the record's most interesting pieces is the big, brash Satin Chic, on which the duo demonstrates its ability to successfully meld cabaret, electronica and pop hooks. Time Out for the World, finally, is the ultimate Theme For An Imaginary Bond Movie.

Occasionally vampish and consistently visceral, Supernature is a classy excursion into Goldfrappian gothic dance-pop. Will Gregory is fast proving himself to be an electrician of the highest degree. He now has banks and banks of creaking old synthesizers lined up with state-of-the-art digital manipulation gear, but pulls off the impressive trick of imbuing everything he does with an old fashioned, soulful quality. There's a chameleon-like quality to Goldfrapp's vocals - but whether she's acting the scheming dominatrix or the demure romantic, her sexuality never seems to be very far below the surface. Supernature is a curious record with the hooks to make the leap to the mainstream, but with enough residual oddness to maintain Goldfrapp's air of mystery a while longer. It's taken a while, but it looks like a star has finally been born.