You'd think it would have slowed by now, but it seems that nu-disco has gained enough self-sustaining power to assert itself as a variable yet viable dance music sub-scene. The full-length remains an elusive format for the genre, though, especially when compared to its spate of scene-defining DJ mixes, original tracks and remixes. There are a variety of approaches: Whereas a new band like Toronto's Parallels opt for an Italo disco-infused sound that is caught between sugar-coated vocals and a more clinical, almost mechanical synthetic background ala Anne Clark, New York City-based duo The Golden Filter offers, with Voluspa, a more luscious proposition. For a while, it was even believed they were behind the cryptic Iamamiwhoami viral campaign this winter on YouTube, which says a lot about the evocative power of their persona and the richness of sound developed on this first album.
Tracks like "Hide Me" and "Solid Gold" are blog favorites, and it's easy to see why: They're propulsive synth pop numbers with a constantly stirring edge. "Thunderbird" is especially effective in its intertwining of spoken word and angelic vocal parts, ascending synths and thunderous drum rolls. Frontwoman Penelope Trappes is the obvious star of the album with her enchanted—if slightly affected at times—voice: "Dance Around the Fire" opens up the album, strings mixing with her cooing, which are the two most upfront and distinctive Golden Filter elements. Trappes' voice isn't that dance floor-friendly, but it especially shines on slower moments like "Moonlight Fantasy" and "The Underdogs."
At seven minutes, "Stardust" is even more intriguing, as production head honcho Stephen Hindman brings the track to the verge of silence, only to let Trappes take center stage and bring the entire thing to a rousing climax of hovering strings and floating synths that then showcase semi-operatic vocal harmonies until the very last second. Needless to say, it's the album's strongest moment, largely because it constantly keeps you guessing where it's going to take you.
On "Nerida's Gone," they put the beats aside to focus on a string-laden, pensive chanson that reminds you that The Golden Filter's sound has more to do with Saint Etienne circa Tiger Bay than with, let's say, Horse Meat Disco. It's at that moment that Voluspa turns itself inside out and is revealed to be one of those rare dance music albums that actually feels more comfortable listened to at home, by yourself, in a romantic yet solitary mood. A contradictory effect for sure, but that's part of the appeal.
Buy The Golden Filter - Voluspa at
Tracklist: The Golden Filter - Voluspa 01. Dance Around the Fire
02. Hide Me
03. Look Me in the Eye
04. Moonlight Fantasy
05. Solid Gold
06. The Underdogs
08. Freyja's Ghost
09. Kiss Her Goodbye
10. Nerida's Gone
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