I’m still kind of obsessed by that Quarteto em Cy record. But mainly, I just want to sleep.
Avalanches: 'Since I left you' (CD; Sire; 2001)
I've come to like this album very much. When I first listened, I really felt as if there was just one song, dragged on and on through different cut-ups and remix formulation. This was a lazy verdict; it's really every bit as interesting and rich as Tipsy, just in a different style.
All the tracks are threaded together in one long DJ mix (although there are individual track marks). The first track, which is a single, is that one song I was talking about. 'Since I left you' is a beautifully put together and very catchy and warm pop tune, made up of various vocal and instrumental samples cleverly spliced together. I can hear hints of Morricone's 'Metti...' in here, along with Van McCoy's 'The Hustle'.
The second track uses the same vocal sample, but includes backgrounds from Sergio Mendes's version of 'cinnamon and clove', among others.
'Radio' sounds like it has a politician's voice spliced up over a generic-sounding house backing.
It's after this that, for me anyway, things really get much more interesting. Track 4, 'two hearts in 3/4 time' starts out with some goofy spoken and vocal samples, before slipping into a beautiful delicate little string/wordless vocal sample that sounds just like something I'd listen to. It's quite cleverly presented, with beat over the top, and a further Fender Rhodes sample linking bits together. The main sample is slightly crudely spliced together, but perhaps that's part of its charm. The song has little direction, and just meanders around. I think this is probably a property of how it was put together (that is, with a mouse and a computer, as opposed to via traditional methods).
The beginning of track 5, 'avalanche rock' has a rapper, a sign of how this album mixes up styles even more than similar groups like, say Noonday Underground and Bent.
Some tracks use short loops, and are as simple as bands like Daft Punk; just a little less glossy. 'A Different Feeling' is a good example of a track like this.
'Electricity' is a strange track in the sense that it sounds unfinished; after a bizarre choral introduction, a big beaty sample comes in that doesn't quite loop properly. This effect is so obvious that it must be deliberate, but it sounds rather unsettling all the same.
'Frontier Psychiatrist', which was the second single from the album, is rather impressive. It's a goofy mix of well chosen voice samples and beats, and is slightly reminiscent of 'Fish' by Mr Scruff. "You're a nut! You're crazy in the coconut," which must have been sampled from an old film, is a particularly well-used phrase. At the beginning, they make subtle use of a sample from the 'Laurence of Arabia' theme, an extremely evocative tune that I've thought of using in such a way myself.
To conclude, there's a fair amount of filler material on here, but I think of it as a 'background'-style album, so I don't find that a problem. Because it's so light and because of the patchwork nature of its composition, some people would dismiss this album as meaningless. To me, meaning is something you the listener can add to a record. This record is more about style and interesting juxtaposition. There's an incredible volume of interesting samples to be heard, and I imagine I'll discover something new every time I listen to this album. It's also incredible that it ever got released at all, when you consider the volume of samples that will have had to have been cleared.