Play Mixy for Me

As record-cataloging, garage-sale-shopping High Fidelity types, the Aussies are in good company. Their cut-and-paste methodology has clear predecessors—DJ Shadow's Entroducing . . . , the Beasties' Paul's Boutique, M/A/R/R/S's "Pump Up the Volume," Coldcut's entire discography. But Since I Left You's layers are so dense, it has a sophistication those pioneering records lacked. Gone, for instance, is "Pump Up the Volume" 's crude slapdash pastiche. And while most earlier so-called sample records were strictly party pieces, the Avalanches are fun, but dreamy; there's something melancholy and introspective about Since I Left You. Even the title is wistful.

Like on DE9, every sound is a building block, but the Avalanches aren't exactly subtle. They prefer melodrama—setting up for the break, then going in for the kill. "Flight Tonight" begins with a short intro called "Avalanche Rock"—all murky, with voices muttering in the background, but after a brief lull, there's an earth-shattering break; the vocal snippet of "Wicked She Wicked" soon takes a back seat to a rolling bassline. And that's just the first 30 seconds. If the Avalanches were movie directors, they'd be Cameron Crowe: They want you to notice the tension, the buildup, the jump from sad to bombastic. They are unapologetic tearjerkers.

Detroit chameleon Richie Hawtin gets dizzy.
photo: Nicola Kuperus
Detroit chameleon Richie Hawtin gets dizzy.

Listening to Since I Left You and DE9: Closer to the Editreminds me of when I used to watch my friend DJ Nasir audition his new records for 15 seconds at a time before he'd get bored and switch to the next one. Except really, it's more like hearing six DJ friends play 15-second snippets of six different records at the same time, and having it make sense. You know that old cliché people always say about their favorite records—"Every time I listen to it, I hear something new"? Well, this time it's actually true.

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