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Music / The Avalanches

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Avalanches above, business continues below...

"That boy needs therapy..."

The Avalanches are an Australian electronic music trio formed in 1997. Initially, they started out as a rock group called Alarm 115. The line-up had Robbie Chater on the keyboards, Tony Diblasi also on the keyboards, as well as handling bass and background vocals Darren Seltmann on lead vocals, and later Manabu Etoh on drums. Etoh would later be deported (The Avalanches actually named one of their songs after him), and eventually Alarm 115 disbanded.

After the parting of Alarm 115, they used some old vinyl records they bought to make a demo tape consisting of 30 songs called Pan Amateur. A new group was formed in 1997 that had Chater, Diblasi, Seltmann, and new addition Gordon McQuilten on keyboards to play the tracks live in concert. Their first four shows were played under various names,note  and it wasn't until their fifth show that they finally became The Avalanches. This name is actually a Shout-Out to the 1963 album Ski Surfin' with The Avalanches by a surf rock band also called The Avalanches.note 

Their debut single "Rock City" was released in September 1997, and their debut EP El Producto (which was actually a rap EP) was released later that year in December. The EP was so successful that Steve Pavlovic signed them to his new label Modular Recordings in the following year. Another EP called Undersea Community was released in 1999 — UK-exclusive, though.

The Avalanches started work on their debut album Since I Left You in mid-1999, using the Working Title Pablo's Cruisenote . They finally finished it in early 2000, but the release was delayed due to attempts to get the album's many samples cleared. The album was finally released in Australia in November 2000 (America and the UK got it in 2001), along with a mixtape named Gimix that served as sort of a preview of the album, along with mixing in some of the samples used on it and the group's personal favorite songs.

They started work on a second 2005. There had been many announcements of the album's development throughout this time period, but no release date was permanently set. They did reveal a demo track in 2012, though. In 2016, they released a video lampshading the album's long creation process, presumably to confirm that they were still working on it. They followed this up with the release of "Frankie Sinatra", featuring Danny Brown and MF Doom, confirming in an interview that the new album's title would be Wildflower, and making an announcement on their Facebook page. After 16 years, their follow-up album was finally released on July 8, 2016 (with a release one week prior on Apple Music), with even more special guests including the likes of Biz Markie, Toro y Moi, Camp Lo, Ariel Pink, and Jonathan Donahue.

In February 2020, they announced their third album and released a new single, "We Will Always Love You" featuring Blood Orange. The album was finished in July of that year and was released in December 2020, also under the title We Will Always Love You.


I found these tropes so new:

  • All Psychology Is Freudian: "Frontier Psychiatrist" has Word Salad Lyrics that parody this trope (like referencing the Freudian Couch).
  • Bedsheet Ghost: A chorus of these appear in "Frontier Psychiatrist"; one of them lifts her sheet to reveal an ordinary-looking elderly woman.
  • Book Ends: Of sorts. The first track has the lines, "Since I left you, I found a world so new." The last song, "Extra Kings" has these lines at the end: "I try but I just can't get you... ever since the day I left you..."
  • Celebrity Song: "Frankie Sinatra."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As mentioned above, El Producto is a Rap EP. The music is also a lot rougher compared to Since I Left You.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Every song on Since I Left You does this, as do many of the songs on Wildflower and We Will Always Love You.
  • Frontier Doctor: The titular "Frontier Psychiatrist".
  • Genre-Busting: Many of the songs on Since I Left You are hard to define as a specific genre. The only exceptions are "Live At Dominoes" (House Music), "Etoh" (Trip-Hop), and maybe "Frontier Psychiatrist" (Hip-Hop with a bit of classical).
  • Genre Roulette: Since I Left You switches between House and Hip-Hop a lot. Conversely, Wildflower goes between hip-hop, house, and neo-psychedelia.
  • Gratuitous Mariachi Band: One appears at the end of "Frontier Psychiatrist".
  • Incredibly Long Note: In "Sunshine". The 'i' in Sunshine goes on for longer than is humanly possible.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When making Since I Left You, the group initially thought that no one would care about it.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Two Hearts In 3/4 Time," a lovely, calming, bubbly song, ends with discordant blip sounds and chaotic drumming drowning out the rest of the song before segueing into "Avalanche Rock".
  • Looped Lyrics: A few of their songs.
  • Mondegreen: Enforced in the sampled recordings:
    • The Title Drop of "Since I Left You" is actually "since I met you."
    • Mick Jones hears the chorus of "We Go On" (as taken from The Carpenters' "Hurting Each Other") as "We go on fighting each other."
    • "Wherever You Go" samples Jimmy Osmond's "Wherever You Go Hugo", which parses as "wherever you go, you go, we go too."
    • Blood Orange gives the chorus as "We will always love you, but that's not my fault," even though the original sample is "...but that's not the point."
  • Miniscule Rocking:
    • "Avalanche Rock" is the shortest song on SILY at 21 seconds long.
    • "The Leaves Were Falling", the first track on Wildflower, is even shorter (0:15).
    • "Star Song.IMG" and "Pink Champagne" from We Will Always Love You clock in at 0:10 and 0:12 respectively.
  • One-Woman Wail: Played with in the intro of "Electricity"; it's actually multiple wails by the same woman layered over each other.
  • Radio Song: "Radio."
  • Recurring Riff: The flute sample heard in "Summer Crane" is reprised at the end of "Extra Kings".
  • Sampling: Lots. In fact, Since I Left You was supposedly made using 3,500 samples.
  • Shout-Out: During his guest appearance on "Noisy Eater", Biz Markie raps the line "I don't want no chicken 'cuz it tastes like wood," a reference to The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight".
  • Siamese Twin Songs:
    • "Since I Left You" and "Stay Another Season". The drum loop heard throughout "Since I Left You" is carried over into "Stay Another Season", while the titular vocals of "Since I Left You" don't appear until halfway through.
    • "Etoh" and "Summer Crane". Only the vocals of the former are carried over into the latter.
    • There's an instance of Siamese Triplet Songs; "Flight Tonight," "Close To You" and "Diner's Only." The synth sample heard in "Flight Tonight" keeps playing for a bit while it goes into "Close To You," which in turn has a section near the middle that is sort of reprised in "Diner's Only." There's also a vocal sample used in "Close To You" that goes "Gentleman that's going round, turning the joint upside down" that can be heard in "Diner's Only," but a lot quieter.
    • Wildflower has a Siamese Quintuplet song, with the opener "The Leaves Were Falling," "Because I'm Me," the album version of "Frankie Sinatra," "Subways" and "Going Home" all seamlessly leading into each other.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Very common in their music, though the spoken word bits are usually (if not always) samples.
    • Their two collaborations with David Berman, "Saturday Night Inside Out" (from Wildflower) and "A Cowboy Overflow of the Heart" (a demo the band released as a free download) both consist of Berman reciting his poetry over music.
  • Stop and Go: Done twice in "Close to You".
  • Subliminal Seduction: Playing "Colours" backwards reveals these vocals (sampled from: "Where There's a Heartache" by The Sandpipers):
    After the tears
    True love can start
    Where there's a heartache
    There must be a heart
  • Voice Clip Song: The main chorus of "Frontier Psychiatrist" samples different parts of an old Wayne and Shuster skit in this manner. The "verses," so to speak, also sample various spoken word records.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!:
    • In "Flight Tonight", with a sampled appearance from the Saian Supa Crew.
    • "Frankie Sinatra", with a feature from both Danny Brown and MF Doom.
    • Brown returns on "The Wozard of Iz", and Biz Markie features on "The Noisy Eater".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Slow Walking" and "Everyday". Also, pretty much all of El Producto.
  • Word Salad Title: The three names the group had before settling on "The Avalanches".