Since I Left You
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Amazing full length debut, now deleted in the U.S., for the Aussie indie/dance act who've mixed Badly Drawn Boy & were the first act to get permission from Madonna to sample from her oeuvre (regardless of what you feel about her you have to admit she has
The Avalanches are a much-feted six-man crew of sample addicts from Australia whose debut album, Since I Left You, is a bargain-bin vinyl throwback to the Daisy Age. This album is constructed like a mix tape and calculated to tweak the dance floor. Snatches of familiar rhythms bubble up throughout, giving the record a comfortable lived-in feel but also betraying the fact that the group hasn't dug very far through the crates to source their raw material. There's little doubt that this kind of sample reconstruction has become standard fare for retrogressive adolescents with precious little musical flair and a mania for collecting records. The Avalanches get full marks for their seamless mixing skills, but otherwise it all feels way too tidy, bristling with its own inventiveness when it should be striving for something that transcends its influences. --Chris Campion
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In specific, there are some real gems on the album.
First off, I am most impressed by Frontier Psychiatrist. Extensive yet cohesive use of sampling, laid over a fierce beat with string highlights and an overall dub-ish mood.
Second, Live at Dominoes is really a great tune. Real upbeat, dancey, and listenable. Over, and over, and over again.
There's also "Since I Left You" which literally has birds chirping throughout it. It really is an interesting track. The melodies throughout it are completely sugary and poppy, but the lyrics overlaid on it give a nice contrast. Overall, it is a very complex and enjoyable track.
Honorable mention goes to EtOH. Had it not been sandwiched between Frontier Psychiatrist and Summer Crane, it would have stood out much more on its own.
Wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with at least one ear.
I'd like to give it 3 1/2 stars actually, since there are no half grades, but I can't actually give it a 5.
In my limited knowledge of music, since it doesn't include much dance music after the end the oldies (read: Golden Age of Motown) era, although I am a big fan of contemporary alt-rock and rock and roll of the last 12 years, this I might analyze as kind of like someone wanted to make a lot of records like Revolution #9 and disco-fy them for laughs and, admittedly, a groove. I wonder how many disco or sampled club music fans who don't have very high standards for the words or meaning in their disco dance music might think Since I Left You is just another good dance groove and not even know it is a send up set to a melodiously and sonically attractive detritus? This album works better as a good-natured but back-handed slap at disco music et al, than some Don Henley heavy-handed direct slap like All She Wants To Do Is Dance in putting this music in its place; but it may even give you a reason to like club music, maybe ironically. This record should and ought to be heard by every lover of the kind of disco music that came out of Philadelphia and places like that back in the day - it'll really do a number, as the hippies, pardon me, would say.
Yet, as others are pointing out, the hip-hop send-up here, Frontier Psychiatrist, is the high point, and must be one of the most creative pieces of "together" but beyond-the-pale inanity, if that paradox-as-compliment applies; play this for your friends too much and they may think "that boy,or girl, as the case may be,(indeed) needs therapy". How secure do you feel about your own sanity? Whoa! you say? Might frighten away those who feel their normality has just been subjected to an over-overdose of the mental equivalent of laughing gas (nitrous oxide), a little too OFF - THE - WALL..., those looking for a safe and predictable world of music may just want to back-off, way back ...saying or mumbling something like.."uh, huh, sure...if I never hear that again...my concepts of the everyday and known world of experience don't need to be blown away by this...maybe pretend like they never heard it. This could blow the minds of some a lot more definitely than a back-and-forth medley of say, "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Ha" (Napoleon XIV, remember?) coupled with "I Am The Walrus" put together. Others, most, less insecure will take this record, which actually good clean fun, in stride. I did play Frontier Psychiatrist for some people at my office and people were saying "What is that?(!!)" and "That record sounds CRAZ-EE!" in semi-shock mixed with a dash of wary trepidation.
A great original piece of creativity, the whole CD, maybe one of a kind, I don't know. After about 7 plays in less than a week since opening it up, it is still fun and entertaining, and I'm still discovering the much-laboured sort-of-mildly delightful intricacies of this CD. Recommended for those who don't take their music too seriously all the time, or as a change of pace in your collection from serious music-making or soul-searching records by Coldplay, Pete Yorn, Bob Dylan, Old 97's or whoever else you're listening to these days. A Groovy Trip on a kaleidoscope of nothing made into something, but some will say this is all nothing, and some will say this is something (!), and they would both be right.