Dusting Off... The Avalanches' Since I Left You
What is it?
Released in November 2000, Since I Left You is the debut album – and still the only album – by Australian collective The Avalanches. Beginning as a three-piece punk band named Alarm 115 with core members Robbie Chater, Tony Di Blasi and Darren Seltmann, the group underwent several line-up and stylistic changes over their first few months, playing one-off live shows under a series of different (and comically stupid) names like Swinging Monkey Cocks and Whoops Downs Syndrome before settling on the name The Avalanches after only their fifth gig. They added several other members, including their DJ Dexter Fabay, and by 1998 had begun working on their first album.
Constructed from over 3,500 samples, The Avalanches' eclectic approach to making music as a collage of samples from different styles, eras and genres earned their method of working the nickname of 'plunderphonics'. As a result it's a difficult record to describe in terms of any particular style, although hip-hop is probably the closest thing to their overall sound and method.
Although the band released a handful of singles from the album - including the title track,'Electricity' and 'Frontier Psychiatrist' – the album is constructed as one long piece of music, taking in everything from breakbeat, soul, funk, pop and just about any other musical style you could think of, blended together and manipulated with samplers to create something entirely new. Vocal samples from films and television also feature prominently on the record, especially from Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Shuster.
Since I Left You proved to be a hit both critically and commercially, but it also proved to be a difficult act to follow. The band have reportedly been working on a follow-up since around 2005, but there have been any number of delays, line-up changes and false dawns and although the last couple of years have seen an increase in activity and speculation around the release of their second album, with acts like Danny Brown and Jennifer Herrama having confirmed their contributions to the record, at the time of writing there is still no confirmed release date or even a title for the new album.
Why should I revisit?
Although we'd like to hope this isn't the case, after 15 years even the most dedicated fans of The Avalanches are beginning to wonder if a second album will ever see the light of day, so if nothing else Since I Left You might be the only record they ever complete, but what a record it is. One of the most unique records of its era, albums like this and the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique literally changed the landscape in terms of how sampling was used, but they also helped changed the law, making it much more difficult to use copyrighted music in new works.
That said, we live in hope and everyone who has reportedly worked on the new record seems to think it's ne of the best things they've ever been involved with, with Danny Brown going so far last year as to say the rack he has done with the band is “going to change the world”.
Who will enjoy it?
The great thing about Since I left You is that there are so many styles and influences at work here that whatever music you're into, you'll probably find some of it on this record. It's a staggering achievement as a piece of work and the perfect album whether you're having a barbecue, a party or just looking for something to chill out to on a Sunday morning.