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A superb album from an Australian collective with genuine raw talent. I most definitely recommend this album to anyone. Free your mind of all hate for 'dance' music, sit back and relax. This is a seriously cool album, with some upbeat tracks running tangent with some downtempo, chillout melodies. You can only marvel at the sheer turntablism talent of these guys. Each different track runs effortlessly into the next making it the perfect album to find your favourite chill out abode and just simply take time out and relax from the hectic and frankly non-stop lifestyle we all seem to be living and ask yourself, is it all really worth it? It's hard to find any genuine bad points to this album apart from the fact the airplay has been nigh on non existant and in my opinoun it doesn't seem to be getting the recognition it truely deserves! It does however lack the consistency you would expect and some tracks can become quite monotonous through the length of them.
Many people think that sampling is a cardinal sin of music - plagiarism if you will. Often it is done with no style or panache whatsoever, and people like Abs have managed to wreck some classic songs with a just a few bars of inane rapping. However, when sampling is done well, it can produce the most wonderous of sounds, and some of the most creative music. The Avalanches manged to produce arguably the finest sample based album since De La Soul's 'Six Feet High and Rising' in 2001's 'Since I Left You'. Juxtaposing obscure snatches of the sorts of dusty 12" records you find in jumble sales with some modern beats, it's an album that surprises with every twist and turn. Hailing from Australia, we were introduced to the band via the opening track, also entitled 'Since I Left You'. Sounding like the lovechild of Cerys Matthews and Macy Gray running through a cornfield on a summers day, it stood out as a real breath of fresh air. Accompanied by a video of a dancing miner (which was nominated for numerous awards), it only just failed to claim a deserved place in the Top 10. 'Since I Left You' is more of a mix album than a traditional one, and the tracks ends and beginnings are blurry, almost as though you are tuning a radio. Portions of 'Since I Left You' and later tracks emerge in the Madonna sampling 'Stay Another Season' which sounds as if it contains extracts from a million and one unheard songs. 'Radio' contains some frantic beats and once again, some random and unfamiliar noises. It then seems to turn into a 1950's black and white film soundtrack before emerging into the lush 'Love In 3/4 Time', which relies heavily on a Marlena Shaw track. A divine 'la la la' chorus takes you off into a dream world and 2 and a half minutes of sheer joy and it is, for me, the highlight of the album. After the hip-hoppy filler 'Avalanche
Rock', we are treated to 'Flight Tonight', which sounds like the likely results should the Chemical Brothers ever get employed by the Jamaican Tourist Board... 'Close To You' doesn't feature either the Carpenters or Maxi Priest, but just about everything else. Some bizarre retro keyboard noises, a rap and a whistle, it is even busier than the rest of the tracks. There seems to be no structure to it, but is a godsend for people who like their soundclashes... 'Diner's Only' continues the song into more mellower territory before launching into the Daft Punk sounding 'A Different Feeling'. More disco than some of the other songs, it is undoubtedly another highlight. 'Electricity' starts off operatically before chilling out more nicely. Because of it's more detached and definable structure, it was released as a single, although I don't think it's the best track off the album. Some restaurant piano blues is up next on 'Tonight', where the piano sample sounds as though it was taken from a gramophone such is the sound quality. A lovely vocal snippet from Nancy Wilson's 'Tonight May Have To Last Me All My Life' elevates the song, before a quick interlude through 'Pablo's Cruise'. Just when it was getting safe and a little less random, 'Frontier Psychiatrist' is unleashed upon us. An amazing smorgasbord of horse noises, film samples and the use of lines such as 'that boy needs therapy', 'I'm gonna kill you', 'he was white a sheet' and 'he also made false teeth' amongst others make it truly unique. Accompanied by one of the most original videos I've ever seen (an amalgamation of a number of snippets of theatrical scenes all played out on one stage, shot in the style of a low-budget 1950's movie, it complements the scattered nature of the song. Very hard to describe, but truly engaging. <
br> 'Etoh' puts us back into mellow territory with a gorgeous harp, before the beats kick in and it becomes more frantic and almost paranoid sounding. Some French rhyming in 'Summer Crane' accompanied by some relaxing xylophone sequences return us back to the chill-out zone. The start of 'Little Journey' sounds like the outro to film where the heroine sets off into the sunset, before turning into a Wild West soundtrack. The penultimate 'Live At Dominoes' sees us back into Daft Punk territory with a hint of Boney M mixed in. Not as scary as it sounds, and strangely addictive. 'Extra Kings' sees the album to a close with a nice contrast of relaxing sounds and dancier beats, and is a perfect summation of the album, closing with the fade out 'can't forget you since I left you'. 'Since I Left You' is possibly the most crazy and random album you are ever likely to hear. There are literally hundreds of samples contained within it, and a quick look at the inside sleeve will show you just how much of a hard time the band's lawyers must have had in trying to get clearance for all the songs. Hopefully, (unlike De La Soul who had to give most of their royalties away for pinching without paying for 'Three Feet High...) none of the artists featured have been upset with the use of their work on the album. Despite perhaps being a little bit too frantic for some, it is an amazingly creative and original album that will restore anyone's faith in album that contain samples? ...
A lot of bands, in their lifetime, are accused of "sounding like/ripping off" other, older bands. The Avalanches, in their debut, twist this to their own devices, by sounding a little like ALL their favourite bands. "Since I Left You" is an album composed entirely of samples. At first, when I heard "Frontier Psychiatrist", I thought the band were little more than a novelty. The song's very catchy and fun, with a hilarious video to match. However, the idea of an entire album made up of samples lit up the "gimmick" light in my head. On listening to the album however, the beauty of the sampling, and true diversity of records used, quickly send any allegations of 'ripping off' away. The album flows brilliantly as one entire mix, with a distinct sound coming through. Earlier samples are often reintroduced in later tracks, in different contexts (i.e. main sample in one track becomes low key echo in next). The album is hard to describe on a song basis, it's really intended for listening to all at once. However, certain tracks stand out; Since I left you, the title track, has a sweet female vocalist singing over a pretty good ambient mix of samples (flutes et al.). Frontier Psychiatrist is a wacky collection of film dialogue samples which has film music interweived within it, producing a humerous and catchy song Overall, the album is a change from guitar bands and dull chart music. It isn't particularly ground breaking, but does show that sampling can be used to create entirely new songs with surprisingly good results. I'd reccomend this album if you want something a little different, but ultimatley still listenable to.
I just read Ian Proudfoot's opinion on this and I was mightily impressed- and I just want to say right here at the beginning that this isn't in anyway intended to be so analytical as his- more of a general comment. I bought this album in late May (I think), so its had plenty of time to settle, as it were. I marched into HMV and asked the bemused sales assistant for some 'summery, out in the garden music- for relaxing to...' and she came up with this. I'd read a couple of reviews of the album before, but had completely forgotten about it. On the first listening I was hooked- its good- its very smoooth- almost too smooth for its own good. So many different styles and genres, beats of all shapes and sizes are juxtaposed together here- and it works- a tribute to the skill of those who made it. However, I can't help feeling that for all its diversity, it somehow manages to sound a bit, er- repetitious, in places- the sounds are so smooth it all sounds smooth, and that same smoothness continues all the way through ( I know I can't talk about repetition- but you get the point!) Frontier Psychiatrist stands out on the album, representing perhaps their best use of random samples to great effect. But of the rest of the album , I don't really think there's much to differentiate between the tracks. Don't get me wrong, the individual tracks are great- I just wouldn't have minded if it had been a little more diverse. Many dance artists manage to provide variety within their albums (e.g. Music for the Jilted Generation- Prodigy- although obviously its not quite the same)- so why not more so here? Don't get me wrong- its good and this is only my opinion afterall, but I couldn't help feeling that its maybe more of a showcase for DJing skills than an 'album' per se- more of a mix session- but then again, maybe thats what its meant to be.
Wednesday night saw a gathering of stereotypes at the electric ballroom in camden for a display of just what only a handful of people i dare say predicted. I have to admit i was not one of them. After trawling through the new releases section in early december i came across a freshly imported, and thus rather expensive copy of the Avalanches "Since I Left You" and took a gamble. Interested in the physical and moral effects of sampling and feeling just rewarded for earlier faith in outfits and artists of this nature that grew ( we all remember DJ Shadow's debut ... don't we? ) adding this to my measly collection seemed appropriate. I must say that it didn't make the earth move for me. It was a good album that had some pretty weird infusions and I've left it at that. So when tickets were presented to me to be honest i expected 6 stationary silouhettes behind a lot of digital and analogue equipment and perhaps a crazy light show. Indeed the light show existed but the performance was anything but static. It rocked! Along the lines of their australian predecessors, such as "TISM" and "Cranky", this was an outfit who thrived on giving the preverbial finger to the notions of a high brow or dumbed down music industry. After starting the set with a duet of mixing between reggae, cuban and old 70's tv theme songs ( my friends and i are still arguing whether it was the MASH tune) the rest of the band joined in with the enthusiasm and energy of a bunch of 6 year olds who've had way too much sugar intake and are just there for a good laugh. this was infectious. the other delight was to see a variety of traditional musical instruments which were handed around liberally throughout the group, very democratic indeed. If you were there though to hear the live version of the album you would have been dissapointed. the big tracks appeared but where fazed out as soon as the audience become comfortable or
familiar. this was not what they wanted us to feel. as Opera was backed up by some huge beats the scene would change to Madonna's "Holiday" with the lyrics of Bob Dylan weaved perfectly through it ... like it was meant to be, and it is a brave DJ that let rips with Guns 'n Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" yet get's away with it. To sum up this was a show that was not huge on the musical mastery, or indeed any spine tingling songs, although your memory is in for quite a treat as you'll be amazed at what classics they drag up. It was a piece of performance that is a good attempt at pushing the boundaries of ever expanding mainstream music, and in a present scene of minimal or contrived productions the absurdity of this was welcomed relief.the only real downer is that they only had the energy for a one hour set but then did back it up with a dj set afterwards that had the remainers getting down and dirty If they are coming your way, and you have fond memories of the good old days when crew like the Beastie Boys managed to cause childish chaos with great sounds, it would be worth your while heading on down there, sucking it all in and enjoying the show. It's a lot faster than there commendable album but that's what it's all about. Expect the unexpected and sometimes you'll be pleasantly suprised.
A lot of hype has been surrounded the Australian DJ collective The Avalanches. The majority of the music press has sung their praises, insisting they are the best thing since sliced bread, etc… Normally I’m very suspicious of so much praise being heaped on a band. Although ‘Since I left you’ has been out for several months I had decided to give it a miss. However I recently heard The Avalanches new single ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ and was mightily impressed by it’s cool cut ups of B-movie samples and funky beats. So impressed with the single I head down to my local record emporium and purchased ’Since I left you’. A criticism of many bands debut releases is that you can normally hear the record that influenced the band in their music. The thing with The Avalanches is that they are literally their record collection. You see ‘Since I Left you’ is completed constructed from snippets, samples and breaks from other people’s records. This maybe the story with the majority of dance acts now, but The Avalanches take it one step further. Just one look at the sleeve of the CD and you notice that the credits for all the tracks take up one half of the sleeve (and this is in relatively small type). Personally I have no problems with sampling as many great tracks have been heavily based around samples, (Bomb The Bass - Beat Dis, Meat Beat Manifesto’s Boney M sampling Radio Babylon and The Future Sound of London’s Radio Babylon sampling Papua New Guinea to name a few). So why does something make me feel suspicious about ‘Since I left you’?. Well for starters rather than being an album of individual tracks ‘Since I left you’ is more of a mix CD. Tracks blend and bleed into each other with their being no obvious gaps in the album. With these tracks being made up of samples of other people’s tracks as, it beggars the question over whether ’Sine
I left you’ can actually be considered as true album or rather a fantastically cool DJ Mix set. One thing for sure The Avalanches are masters of the turntable, they match to mix soul, funk, hip hop, easy listening, film samples, street sounds, animal sounds and Madonna’s Holiday into one super smooth blend. The nearest comparisons are probably DJ Shadow (but without the dark edge) Coldcut and Kid Koala (but without the deliberate disjointedness and scratching). Other times “Since I left you’ recalls the polished 80’s style funk of Daft Punk and Les Rythmes Digitales. In fact it’s extremely hard to put a finger on The Avalanches which can only be a good thing . I still have other reservations about certain aspects of the album though. Sometimes the source material is a bit to syrupy. This is particularly true with some of the easy listening excerpts, which seem twee and cheesy (if such a mix is possible). However these moments are equally matched by moments of deep down and dirty funkiness (Flight Tonight the aforementioned Frontier Psychiatrist). ’Since I left you’ is a record that demonstrates the outstanding skills of The Avalanches. The mixing and constructing of the tracks is exquisite. Disparate elements are pulled in and out of the mix and it’s often hard to believe that that these sounds actually work together. ’Since I left you’ also proves that The Avalanches have an extremely large and varied record collection, again the sampling credits indicated this. We get samples of tracks by Jimmy Webb, The Osmonds, Boney M (again) and De La Soul to name a few. The great thing if you know the originals then ‘Since I left you’ becomes a game of musical trainspotting. This does not mean however that it is just for the music snobs out there. If anything ‘Since I left you’ works best if you just go with the flow and let yourself get dragged i
nto the mix. ‘Since I left you’ rates as one of the best mix album to be released to in the last few years but for The Avalanches to claim it’s the tracks as their own is a tad cheeky in my opinion. ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ is the coolest cut from the album and I would recommend that for those still unsure about The Avalanches. It would now be interesting to see what The Avalanches can produce without the heavy use of source material. One thing is for sure a lot of other artists and record labels are going to make a nice little earner from ‘Since I left you’.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Since I Left You
2 Stay Another Season
4 Two Hearts In 3/4 Time
5 Avalanche Rock
6 Flight Tonight
7 Close To You
8 Diners Only
9 A Different Feeling
12 Pablo's Cruise
13 Frontier Psychiatrist
15 Summer Crain
16 Little Journey
17 Live At Dominoes
18 Extra Kings