Transported into the luscious world of Goldfrapp, Getintothis’ Paul Baker bathes in the provocative and sometimes nauseous storytelling behind new album Tales Of Us.
It starts with a dull monochrome sky, marram grass and endless deserts of beachy sand. Two beautiful young women pass each other on this desolate strip of coastline and share a look of sex.
The darker, more confident one becomes the hawk, spying on her prey from the dunes, following her through the long grass until she heads her off, squatting nonchalantly in her path.
She takes her confidently by the hand and leads her laughing to a secluded dune, there to touch and kiss, and kiss and touch, and grip her roughly about the neck until she stops breathing.
Sex, violence and beautiful photography are the keys to the five short films that make up Goldfrapp’s recent 30 minute cinematic event. Well, that and the music, of course. Getintothis nearly forgot about the music.
Goldfrapp‘s song Stranger is playing over all of this, this almost French new wave film condensed to four minutes and transplanted to our never sunny shores.
The five short films that make up the whole movie are each designed to accompany five of the one-name, character-driven tracks from Goldfrapp‘s latest album Tales of Us.
Each of these films and songs tells a story, in luscious, artsy, slow motion, French-German-English-American alternative filmmaking tropes, all picked up and mixed together by director Lisa Gunning and then splashed onto cinema screens across the world for this one-off, simulcast event.
For your info, Gunning‘s body of work includes editing the 2009 John Lennon picture Nowhere Boy, and 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, while she also happens to be Ms Goldfrapp‘s partner. Maybe work was slow? There is a recession on, and if you can’t help your friends…
Goldfrapp herself keeps popping up amidst the models, actors and dancers who grace these high-def mini movies. A little soft focus means she doesn’t look half bad on screen alongside them, despite her 47 years.
Getintothis found ourselves quite wrapt by these little vignettes. A pole dancer practicing her sweat-soaked, underwear-straining moves; a young boy going to his secret hideout to wear dresses; a Blair Witch like horror starring Alison Goldfrapp as the psychotic killer; and a bike ride to a run-down villa where young beautiful people frolic naked without a care until old Goldfrapp comes and jumps into bed with them.
Not sure why this is considered a film, though, rather than a load of music videos by the same director. Puzzling… Yes, it’s all quite pretty and a wee bit silly. Pretentious, but also sumptuous and seductive. And, you know what? The music is pretty darn decent too. We remember the Germanic electro of their early material, their glam sex disco period, before some more recent bland pop fumblings.
But this new stuff looks to strings and songwriting, recalling Lee Hazlewood, Jacques Brel, Nick Drake and Scott Walker.
Alison Goldfrapp‘s voice, always an effective weapon, now seems to channel Kate Bush or Tori Amos, along with the classic breathy chanteuse. It all blends very nicely, it’s a satisfying pudding. But it might leave some feeling quite full and a little nauseous.
The digestif then, is a live cleanser from the group… an audacious performance beamed to all those cinema screens around our little word, live from George Martin‘s AIR Studios in London.
The 50 minute live show acts as a retrospective of Goldfrapp’s career and gives Will Gregory, the other half of the duo, a chance to show his axe skills, backed by some hot-sounding session players.
Again, it seems Ms Goldfrapp has applied the Oil of Olay to fight off those wrinkles, while greasing up that larynx to produce some wonderful vocal feats. It was a flawless performance, and all concerned seemed quite relaxed, considering the chutzpah involved in putting together a live show in one room, moving it along quite seamlessly, and then beaming the whole thing around the globe.
Goldfrapp made sure to please the crowds by finishing with some older material – Lovley Head from their 2000 debut album Felt Mountain; plus disco stompers Train and Strict Machine from 2003 breakthrough album Black Cherry.
You might be interested to note that many who gathered within FACT to see this Goldfrappian spectacle clapped between songs, despite their being no conduit for two-way communication with the band. Still, one time Ms Goldfrapp did whisper “thank you” when she finished a tune.
It was weird, cool and funny. It was that kind of night.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Only Lovers Left Alive: Jim Jarmusch, vampires and a little night music
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty – Terence Nance’s ode to humanity
Oscars, excess and The Wolf of Wall Street
Inside Llewyn Davis and the music of the Coen Brothers
Mark Kermode, Will Self and the nature of modern criticism
Breaking Bad: The Ballads of Heisenberg and the music of Breaking Bad