Saturday, April 12, 2008

doing it owly style

I've long regarded Goldfrapp as arrant bandwagon-jumpers. That schaffel stuff!
So I wasn't at all surprised when I read that their new album Seventh Tree involved a total aesthetic-makeover. Typical! I wasn't that surprised either that the new direction was "weird folk music". After all, you'd have to be pretty out-of-it not to have noticed things like Vashti Bunyan and Joanna Newsom being so hip, all the broadsheet attention that Folk Britannia festival got in 2006. They've probably bought one of those Bob Stanley compilations, like Gather in the Mushrooms, I thought; perhaps the Comus reissue. Even the video for the first single "A&E", with its leafy man-shapes emerging from the woodland floor to cavort antic struck me as pretty par for the cod-eldritch course really. Everybody loves The Wicker Man these days.

Still, when I read in some piece Alison Goldfrapp saying "We've been inspired by this idea of paganism and the surreal themes in traditional English children's books", it did give me a little flicker of suspiciousness. And then the CD turned up in the mail and pulling out the disc for a curious-despite-myself listen I saw this back o' cd-tray graphic:

A female nude with an owl's head!

And then opening the gatefold-esque CD booklet, I further saw:

Another owl, in a faintly suggestive pose with La Goldfrapp!

Okay, Alan Garner's The Owl Service, cult children's book, pretty well known, although actually I must admit I'd never heard of it until certain people we know started going on about. But definitely in the air and fame game for magpie-minded types.

But then I clocked this image, on the other side of the CD booklet/gatefold poster:

Now someone's gone to a lot of trouble here to style Will Gregory, the silent musicianly/producery partner in 'Frapp, to look like a geography teacher circa 1974. A tone poem of browny-orangy-gingery-tawny hues with a period photo stock feel, it looks remarkably like the kind of found photograph that a certain designer might use in the photomontages he does for this little label he operates in his spare time.

And then, the giveaway. Not exactly hiding in plain sight, but if you were take your booted heel--or a handy hammer--to the hardshell of Seventh Tree (compact disc removed, or still inside: your choice) you will find inside the shattered plastic cd-tray, secreted between the nude-girl-with-owl's-head and the paper insert that forms the CD back cover proper, a sort of undercover cover.... a confession or a flaunting, who can say? Viz: