I Have Been Over The Rainbow (The Avalanches, Wildflower review)
We’ve witnessed lots of absenteeism in music over the years, but my all-time favourite probably came from Guns ‘n Roses and their lack of interest in seeing Chinese Democracy arrive in a timely manner, at all.
So I skipped out on it, I mean fuck’em right? Well not so, well, not entirely. Chinese Democracy didn’t have the hitmaking power of Appetite for Destruction, nor the sweeping epic of Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illision II, but it’s a pretty solid album on it’s own. Just thirteen years later.
Well today, we look at an album sixteen years in the making.
The Avalanches – Wildflower
released July 8, 2016
The Avalanches are an Australian group that started spinning records back when I was still in junior high school. Or to put it another way, way, way back in 1997. They were making plunderphonics back before I even knew that that was a cool way to make music.
I don’t want to dwell too much on what plunderphonics is, but if you are familiar with pretty much any other existing audio recording ever, than you’ll understand that combining existing samples and/or altering them allows for a track to enter into the mix. Pun intended.
The Avalanches current lineup consists of Robbi Chater, Tony Di Blasi, and James Dela Cruz, but they’ve gone through a huge rotation with five other band members coming and going. Incidentally this has something to do with the fact that the group released their debut album Since I Left You in 2000, but haven’t put any studio albums out since that first one.
The reason for this is because of many personal issues the band faced, between Chater being ill for three years, and issues of too many songs to choose from, the band was faced with the problem of genius and perfectionism. And so here we are sixteen years later. But you know what, Wildflower is still a delight to listen to. It reminds me of The Go! Team, Beastie Boys, Gorillaz, Jackson 5, and Canadian favourite Caribou all mashed together into one giant happy, fuzzy, sleepover with rainbow pillows and unicorn blankets.
Remember when I mentioned a while back that jazz music has been making a resurgence via successful acts like Leon Bridges and Kendrick Lamar? Well, The Avalanches are hopping on this bandwagon of rather raw music and the results are coming up nicely. It never feels like a strong narrative, but it doesn’t produce nostalgia.
For instance, those tweeting birds on Zap! takes me right back to the soundtrack of that Sleeping Beauty movie from the 1950s.
I would be remiss to break down this review into particular tracks and emotions, because I think that you’ll get more out of it just diving right in and considering the source material. Seriously.
Now it is a little sad that founding member Darren Seltmann opted out before the album finished, but it is comforting to know that co-founders Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi are still there for us. And for such a nostalgia trips, this feels very present in our time space. It is both jazz and pop infused, and good music fans know that those genres are very “lit” right now.
I would argue that The Avalanches have produced a much cooler vehicle than Guns ‘n Roses, but it does help that they sampled the Mega Man 2 death sounds and featured cereal eating alongside their hip hop.
It’s not a perfect record, but it is very accessible if you are a fan of generation sweeping music. I hope you listen and I bet you’ll find some great samples that make your own heart all weepy.
See ya tomorrow with another nostalgia trip, this time a movie about the 1980s.