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felt mountain
Felt Mountain


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Lately, I’ve been finding myself increasingly bored by many of the albums that have come across my desk while I sit patiently, awaiting the release of Radiohead's Kid A. My fevered anticipation of what will (arguably) be the biggest release of the year has led me to become rather dispassionate about several other releases that, under different circumstances, would have most certainly logged many an hour in my disc changer. That changed when Felt Mountain found its way into my sweaty little hands -- thoughts of Yorke & Co. unexpectedly diminished as I found myself lost in the land of Goldfrapp.

You might not know it, but you’ve probably heard Allison Goldfrapp's siren-like vocals before. She has contributed her impressive singing skills to a host of albums -- most notably Tricky’s trip-hop opus Maxinquaye and Orbital’s seminal Snivilisation and Middle of Nowhere albums. Felt Mountain finds the sultry songstress working under her own name, joining forces with composer Will Gregory to create a truly captivating album.

Felt Mountain's impossibly graceful opener (and first single) "Lovely Head" wraps Goldfrapp’s breathy falsetto around a velveteen groove and otherworldly synth belches, establishing the tone for the remainder of the record. "Human" brings Bjork to mind, with Goldfrapp’s heavily enunciated vocal gymnastics hovering over Gregory’s bed of synthesized strings and electrocuted bossa-nova beats. And one simply cannot forget the dolorous carnival atmospherics and shimmering brass of "Oompa Radar".

As if that wasn't enough, you’ll also find Bond themes in waiting ("Horse Tears"), a dollop of icy liquid funk ("Felt Mountain") and a celestial exercise in trip-hop ("Deer Stop") that makes Portishead look like a pair of talentless tossers. Every track is a winner, and each employs a different technique to draw the listener into its musical web. This is what Stereolab must think they sound like.

The only thing wrong with Felt Mountain is its length. The nine songs clock in at just less than 40 minutes, leaving the listener feeling cheated. It's like sitting through a two hour movie, only to have the projector fizzle out during the final 10 minutes, leaving you amazed at what you saw, but frustrated by the lack of a conclusive denoument.

Nonetheless, Felt Mountain stands as one of the most triumphant releases of the year. It's also the only album besides the new GYBE! that has managed to pull my mind out of the Radiohead gutter. Whether it will retain that rare ability after the official release of Kid A remains to be seen.

-- Jason Jackowiak

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