Goldfrapp: Strict Machine

Adrien Begrand


Strict Machine

Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2004-05-18
UK Release Date: Available as import

Although it's funny how it sometimes takes a while for a really cool CD to catch on with the masses, when such success happens to an artist who is completely deserving of the attention, it's certainly better late then never. These days, it looks as if audiences in both the UK and the US are starting to perk their ears up and pay some attention to Goldfrapp's terrific 2003 album Black Cherry, which was one of the finest albums to come out a year ago. Today, as television's music video channels all but ignore good, high-quality music, in favor of pre-packaged corporate pop, advertising executives are the ones with keener ears, using music from the hippest of contemporary artists in their ad campaigns. Goldfrapp themselves have recently scored a real coup, as "Tiptoe" was snagged for a Diet Coke ad, and as you probably have seen, both "Strict Machine" and "Train" have been used in some very good Game Boy Advance commercials. People have indeed taken notice, especially with "Strict Machine" as many have wondered, "What's that amazing song?" In early June, the re-released single hit #1 on the US club charts, which is no small feat. Goldfrapp, led by singer (and namesake) Alison Goldfrapp, are also enjoying renewed interest in Britain, recently playing the Glastonbury festival, and are slated to appear at other UK festivals, not to mention opening on the new Duran Duran tour. Thirteen months after the release of Black Cherry, things are finally looking up for the band.

Mute Records has never been afraid to beat a catchy single to within an inch of its life, Goldfrapp being no exception, as dozens of remixes of Goldfrapp songs have been released over the past four or five years. The new Strict Machine CD maxi-single, consequently, bears a strong similarity to 2001's Utopia EP, as it's absolutely loaded with more than an hour's worth of B-sides, live performances, and slick, dance-fueled interpretations of the single. At the onset, you've got the stripped-down single mix of "Strict Machine", a beautiful live performance of "Hairy Trees" recorded in London last year, and the typically enigmatic, half sexy/half creepy "White Soft Rope", which claims to feature something called the "Midwich Children Choir", but the voices sound so strange, you're left wondering if the weird, off-key singing is actually doctored adult voices.

After that, though, the real fun begins, as the focus shifts primarily to the remixes, so if you don't like "Strict Machine", you'd better stay away, because you're going to get Strict-Machined for a good 45 minutes. Goldfrapp drummer Rowan Oliver provides his own remix, creating a more minimal, slinky sound, while New York House mainstay Peter Rauhofer delivers two fantastic, pulsating mixes: his dark, almost sinister "NYC Mix" and slightly mellower "UK Mix" completely stripping the song of its electro elements, in favor of a more pulsating, tribal sound. Italian techno maestro Benny Benassi seems to be showing his limitations lately, repeating his monstrous 2003 hit "Satisfaction" in his recent remixes, using the same undulating, rumbling, trancelike synth lines and beats, but on his "Sfaction Extended Mix", the formula meshes surprisingly well with the original material. Ewan Pearson's terrific, ultra-slick, Giorgio Moroder-inspired "Strippedmachine Mix" isolates several distinct vocal tracks, and mashes them with retro synths as well as a strong dub influence, making the whole exercise sound completely different from the original. Most noteworthy, though, is a spectacular, epic dance mix by house great Victor Calderone (along with Astrid Suryanto), 12 whole minutes of continual euphoric climaxes that deserves to be a club hit this summer; this is without a doubt the best, most gloriously energetic remix of a Goldfrapp song that's ever been done.

The only disappointment about the Strict Machine CD is the fact that the superb "We Are Glitter Mix", a brilliantly heavy dose of '70s glam rock that Goldfrapp has recently incorporated into their live sets, has not been included. Aside from that, though, there's very little to complain about, as both Goldfrapp fans and dance enthusiasts will love this one. Just in time for summer, too.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.