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Old 10-01-2009, 07:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Avalanches - Since I Left You (2000)

I wrote this a few months back on Rate Your Music; I think it's at least decent.




People often dream of an album that takes everything they like in music and combines all of it into one. The Avalanches, hailing from Melbourne do just that - quite literally. Since I Left You, in similar fashion to DJ Shadow's more well known Endtroducing... released four years prior, is noted for being created entirely by samples. In our day where mash ups are plentiful, this may not sound particularly groundbreaking. However, despite being four years late to creating one of the first albums made by this method, the Avalanches' techniques were still quite original for their time. Knowing this, one may come to the assumption that this is a novelty act, perhaps an early predecessor to Girl Talk. However, this would be an erroneous conclusion. What the Avalanches have created is a thing of beauty that has never been properly replicated and is absolutely irreplaceable.

Using an estimated 3,500 samples, this was a very meticulously crafted piece of music. It is obvious that the group painstakingly placed the samples to ensure that everything fit in just right. Some of the samples are taken from fairly mainstream sources and it's very possible that the listener has heard some of this before, but at no time does it ever sound like a gimmicky combination of songs. In fact, virtually every moment of music sounds like something entirely new, and in many cases it's very hard to tell that these are other people's works being mixed and not an original song by the Avalanches. The samples may prompt a vague feeling of recollection, but they are nearly impossible to place, which creates an emotional experience that should not be missed. One of the few exceptions is the track "Frontier Psychiatrist," the album's first single. This is one of the only instances on the album where it sounds like a mixture of samples, but it is very tastefully and well done. Many different voices from various sources are used to provide the vocals, and sometimes the combinations create very odd lyrics, such as the lines "Now tighten your buttocks, pour juice on your chin / I promised my girlfriend I'd learn the violin." The song doesn’t sound haphazardly thrown together, but the multitude of vocal samples is obvious. Despite this, every moment of the album sounds like a very coherent work.

All the way through, this is the aural equivalent of a party. The sound of the music often shifts, but due to the frequent combination of different styles stays somewhat indescribable outside of umbrella terms like "electronic" and "hip hop." Despite these changes, the music retains strong feelings of jubilation and excitement. Occasionally sound clips are even added of things such as people chatting, to make it really sound like a party. The words "Welcome to paradise" come up at a late point in the album, but would have perfectly described the coming minutes had they been said at the opening. With so many samples, the songs are often very layered and there's quite a bit going on, but never for a second does it sound jumbled or spiral out of control. The way the Avalanches have selected where it would be appropriate to ease off and not overload the music suggests a great amount of maturity, especially for a band creating their first LP. Elements are often repeated, but over them we are given new things that prevent the sound from ever stagnating. There is, however, one small exception to this as well. The euphoria of the album is interrupted once for something entirely different, known as "Tonight." The band takes an entirely different direction and sounds much more stripped down for these two minutes. What we are given in the place of all the joy and warmth is a piano ballad featuring female vocals with a very somber feeling. The piano plays for a small period, then simply dies and a woman takes over, singing "Tonight may have to last me all my life." This alternates and the piano always begins playing the same thing, but every time one hears her say this it sounds like the instrument is struggling back to life and having more difficulty with each repetition. Their ability to create this feeling is truly remarkable.

Since I Left You flows beautifully, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to any face. Comparisons have sprung up to Endtroducing…, but they exist merely in composition methods. An examination of this debut yields very few similarities in sound to anything existing and creates a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience, making sampling demand to be taken seriously as an art form.

10/10

Hmm, both albums I've posted a review for on here have been ones I really love.
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Last edited by The Abominable Homan; 10-01-2009 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice review, I couldn't have said it better myself! This is a truly epic album that everyone should listen to!

They should give this to kids at school along with 1984 and free condoms.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Pretty amazing work on this album.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's also good to note that the entire Since I Left You is available for download on their website as one big file. It's called something different but I downloaded it not knowing it was the album which I already had.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Holy shit... is there a link for this album available? I would love to hear it.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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hey i have this album already... didn't know they were from melbourne! pretty much all the good music from aus comes from melbourne... i have to get my ass down there
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