Everyone knows there are songs you can sing along to but did you ever know there were songs you could quote? This is one of many groundbreaking and startling firsts The Avalanches managed to achieve, surprisingly not accidentally. On paper, it all seems like a science experiment gone horribly right, and that’s pretty much what Since I Left You is. The equation will be in many science textbooks for many years and rightly so. Blooming from the rubble of noise punk outfit, Alarm 115, The Avalanches rose to become a band so monumental to the point where the internet explodes when a new update on MySpace is posted. And nobody even uses MySpace anymore!
“Get a drink, have a good time now. Welcome to paradise.” - possibly the most truthful and beautiful sentence that has ever graced my ears. This is the first clear and comprehensible phrase taken from the opening track which has lots of background chatter and clatter. This album truly does feel like paradise. It’s gotten me through a lot of rough times in my life and is my master cleanse. It kept me going and let me forget all my troubles and worries. For me, this album is pure escapism. Partly due to the imaginative visuals SILY induces, Two Hearts In ¾ Time makes me imagine surfers crashing into rocks with as much elegance as possible. The album can brighten anybody’s day. I haven’t listened to the album ever since the beginning of it’s release. Only for four or five years. But this album is what shaped my life those years. Even if you’re just travelling on a bus in awful weather, if you’re listening to this album, You’ll feel like you’re on the beach, sipping pinacalladas.
After 13 active years, The Avalanches have released only one album, Since I left You. And that was ten years ago. But that album is truly astonishing. It has the power to instantly change my mood and put a smile on my face and make my foot tap uncontrollably. It’s a sure party starter, an undeniable ice-breaker, a fearless feat. It has the momentum of 12 brooding horses without the epic twelve minute songs you’d expect. They’ve inspired an uncountable number of dance acts; Justice? Ci. Daft Punk? Oui. J Dilla? Aye. Flying Lotus? Check. I’m not saying that The Avalanches are totally original and aren’t influenced by anything whatsoever. That’s stupid. The beats a very eccentric like Beastie Boys tracks, and surf rock does deserve a mention. And not only that but non of their music featured on this opus is original. It’s made entirely of samples. And I hate to throw statistics around, but the album has over 3500 samples from the most obscure to the most obvious of places. This is why if anybody called The Avalanches lazy, I would happily punch them right in their ugly face. I mean, imagine this album as a cement mixer, and mischievous builders, Robbie Charter and Darren Seltmann, are just throwing any old thing into it, but they’re being strategic about it. The questionable metaphors continue…
It was The Avalanches who turned sampling from a gimmick to a genre. More mainstream acts that have a wider audience sure as hell wouldn’t be what they are without that treasured copy of Since I Left You by the bed. You think artists like Girl Talk would be around or even respected if it wasn’t for The Avalanches? But although Girl Talk does technically sample songs, I’d say it was more mash-up based. Sampling, this intense and advanced, is way more complex than mash-ups. SILY is full of ingenuity and the rhythms wash in and out fluently rather than blatant songs glued together. Now we just take sampling for granted. We don’t realise how, if done well, it can be so unique. For example, on ETOH, the subtlety of the contrasting samples is so overlooked. It opens with a simple strumming of a quiet guitar and an obscure vocal loop. Then we hear a telephone ringing. Then we hear a small tapping noise. This constant building of layers continues until the very last breath of the song. It’s hard not to find it amazing that these musicians can make catchy, attention grabbing songs out of just telephone noises and scratchboards. Kind of inspiring, is it not?
It’s simply genius. Seriously, who’d of thought of sampling re-worked old live material and soundtracks to shitty TV movies, then incorporating them into the most absurd of soundscapes? SILY is a profusion of genres, which is the closest we’ll get to hearing every single genre on one album, that just sounds right. It’s an album to listen to from beginning to end, which isn’t hard when the 18 track, one hour album, goes by so fast. It’s as if you’re hypnotised in a sea of tranquillity. And I’m pretty sure this album has made a dent in the space/time continuum.
It’s an abstract palette of sounds. Imagine a new flavour of crisps, which is a combination of every other flavour of crisps there is. But surprisingly it taste nice. Judging the new flavour by it’s description you’d think it would be tangy and disgusting. This represents the variations of sounds that go by in a heartbeat. It’s what you get when you string dozens of 40 year old easy listening vinyl’s together, then throw in some MC’s and 50’s adverts. They’ve chopped and modelled sounds from the strangest places into their own sound which belongs on Avalanche Island.
Something that a lot of people don’t know is that it’s a concept album. “an international search for love from country to country. The idea of a guy following a girl around the world and always being one port behind. And that was just because we had all these records from all over the world, and we’d like to use all that stuff.” What I love about this is that the concept is told through the melodies, not the lyrics. The idea that you’re being told a story with no words or visuals to guide you, just glamorously produced electronic music is magic. And does that mean it could be classed as world music as well? Well, this album pretty much has fucking everything. But it’s lacking in jazz, to be fair.
People could find it a little repetitive, as it manages to have the same sample play throughout 3 songs, but this just clarifies the true escapade into the conventions of electronic music, the mood this sets for SILY is astounding. People could even find parts a little annoying, but despite all of these potential flaws, it never gets old. This sits above the aces of instrumental hip-hop albums. Whether you’re a beat fanatic or an aspiring musician, there’s plenty to be found by all. There are too many adjectives that can be used to describe this album. Such simplicity, such elegance, such grace. And I hate the fact that this review is so long when Since I Left You can be summed up in one word; Perfect.