Nearly Perfect Albums #25

Since I Left You – The Avalanches

You know what I love the most about this record?  It’s the fact that it contains more than 900 individual samples.  Knowing the problem some acts have with the clearing of samples, it is a modern day miracle that ‘Since I Left You’ was ever released at all.   Take second single, ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ which itself contains elements from 37 different spoken word recordings, including one of a talking parrot and another one which makes up the bulk of the chorus and chimes “He’s a Nut!, He’s crazy in the coconut”

Back in 2000 when it landed in our ears, it sounded like nothing that had come before it, and that includes your so called ‘car boot techno’ Bentley Rhythm Ace.

Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches (2000, Modular Recordings)

But, it’s not the volume of samples that is impressive, it’s the way that the samples are used, the way that they are twisted, manipulated, and turned upside that makes ‘Since I Left You’ so uniquely refreshing.  It’s the way that tiny snippets of songs suddenly appear, sped up or chopped up – like where ‘Holiday’ by Madonna is used briefly but devastatingly in the album title track.

Since I Left You – The Avalanches (2000, Modular Recordings)

Much of the wonder is how the songs gel together, in any five-minute section you may hear a collection of sounds that shouldn’t ever be considered to mashed together let alone actually done, horse noises, golf instruction videos, school rooms, flutes, horns, anything really.  Its incredible, every second of it because you never know what you are going to get.  Even now twenty years after release I’ll listen to a track and hear something that I didn’t recognise or remember.  Like ‘A Different Feeling’ for instance which takes seventies horn sounds from an old soul record and mixes them seamlessly with video game sounds from the early nineties.

A Different Feeling – The Avalanches (2000, Modular Recordings)

I suppose you could say that there is an over reliance on the formula, drop a beat add a sample, speed or mix that sample up, add a voice sample and away we all go.  You would think that people would get sick of it pretty quickly.  But, like I said it’s the thrill of the unexpected that of suddenly hearing something unexpected pop up and having that one sample rattle away in your head for the rest of the day. 

The album ends with what I think is a high point, with the track “Extra Kings” which is a brilliant flute inspired psychedelic number that sounds a lot like some of the work of Animal Collective or perhaps even the Flaming Lips.  It ends with (I think) the same voice that warbles the chorus of “Since I Left You” telling us that “I’ve tried but I just can’t get you/Ever since the day I left you” as the songs swells around it.  Bloody marvellous

Extra Kings – The Avalanches (2000, Modular Recordings)

‘Since I Left You’ is an album overflowing with ideas, creativity all of which have been transformed into brilliant songs that are a lot of fun, made with humour, joy and thriving on the thrill of the unexpected.  Such dedication to music and the recorded art is hard to ignore and even harder not to love.

1 Comment

  1. JC says:

    It’s been a very very very long time since I listened to this CD. I recall being entranced by it at the beginning, but I found myself quickly getting a tad annoyed by it, thinking it was just too clever for its own good. Note to self: dig it out and see what you think these days.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s