Review: The Avalanches, Since I Left You

Spin with caution.

The Avalanches, Since I Left YouInto Love Boat drug music for fashion runways and neo-hippie gay weddings? Then the Avalanches, Australia’s buzzing dance export, have the disc for you. Disorienting, irksome but never uninteresting, Since I Left You recycles old 45’s in a fascinating exercise that creates rich tapestries filled with samplage from the Osmonds to De La Soul. But the band’s loop-happiness borders on maniacal; if you focus on tracks like “Two Hearts in 3/4 Time” or “Diners Only” for too long, you could be driven into delirium. Quieter moments (“Since I Left You,” “Tonight”) minimize the peripheral distraction and allow the sampled performances to truly glisten. (“A Different Feeling,” which samples Debbie Reynolds’s “Tammy,” is sufficiently creepy.) But even these moments are taut with the anticipation of the sonic havoc to come. Clearly not from the school of less-is-more, the Avalanches saturate every last second of their 60 minutes with retro computer game beeps and other splices from pop culture’s past. The muted bass and neptunian milieu of tracks like “Live at Dominoes” and “Little Journey” (samples courtesy of Madonna and the Mamas and the Papas) are designed for the sickies with their heads in the restroom toilets rather than the clubheads on the dancefloor. Spin with caution.

 Label: Sire  Release Date: November 27, 2001  Buy: Amazon

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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