The amount of fun and samples thrown into this record brings it to a high level, and the beauty in the little things on this record warms my heart.
Plunderphonic geniuses the Avalanches have finally returned after their long 16 year journey—a journey that sure wasn’t “little,” either. Robbie Chater, Tony Di Blasi, and James Dela Cruz, announced the release of Wildflower, along with single “Frankie Sinatra,” throwing fans for a loop of both surprise and confusion.
But to fully understand these Aussies, and especially this new album, fans, you got to know a bit about their history. Initially, the band curated an interesting sound: a mixture of beastie boys styled vocals, with DJ and synth elements to add a rich dynamic to the band. El Producto, their first noncommercial release, contained a really neat fun and bouncy tone, definitely working to emulate that Beastie Boys style, while also managing to spice up the mix with a sound that would later define them. But then, after their fully commercial release through Modular back in 2000, Since I Left You put these crazy Aussies on the map, from creating an ingenious sound of simply mixing samples, to lush and cohesively beautiful music. Being what many considered one of the greatest albums of the ’00s—and for me, the greatest album of all time—Since I Left You made such a strong impression that this year’s Wildflower frightened a lot of their fans.
Fans had 16 years of practically nothing, so of course a high majority of them were flabbergasted at the return of these musical ghosts. I mean, sure, we had the occasional tease, or the occasional leak of potentially fake information, including a few years ago a false rumor of a single from the album. The thing is, though, that there has been material out there created by the Avalanches over these 16 years: You just had to dig, dig, dig. Releases like 2005’s The Big Tent Set, Relaxation Tape, Sleepy Bedtime Mix for Young Ones, a demo called “Cowboy Overflow of the Heart,” as well as numerous other mixes were littered around the internet in secrecy, as well as hidden on their site, and only the bold could ever find them.
I mention all of these moments in time for the Avalanches for a reason: They’ve managed to implement samples from most of these mixes from the past 16 years within their new album. Taking this into consideration gives sense to a lot of the sounds within the record—sort of as nods to those diehard fans out there who have been following the Avalanches, listening to every shred of their emotional journey from the very beginning.
But you’re here to know if this return to form would succeed, and it has. No one should have doubted them; even with the missing members, the delays, and the clearances, the whole world was crying for this new record; Wildflower isn’t the same old, same old from them; this is their metamorphosis into a gorgeous butterfly. It’s got the Avalanches’ charm, but includes an interesting psychedelic pop element that I wasn’t expecting at all. The entire album is like a hippie road trip, which enters and leaves a dreamlike state, as well as having moments of callouts to the diehard fans who love these fellows so dearly. From beginning to end, you’re given a ride with so many different and interesting features.
Camp Lo, Toro y Moi, Jonti Danimals, Biz Markie, Jennifer Herrema (Royal Trux), Warren Ellis (Dirty Three, the Bad Seeds), Father John Misty, psych-poet David Berman, orchestrator Jean Michel-Bernard (The Science of Sleep), and longtime live accomplice James Dela Cruz are all packed on this album, and none of them overstay their welcome. Each artist is given more than enough room to add their own sort of genuine sound to the vibrant collage the Avalanches sew up. The amount of fun and samples thrown into this record brings it to a high level, and the beauty in the little things on this record warms my heart. Listen to this record: If you like it, really, go enjoy their earlier material; you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks, Robbie, Tony, and James for finally delivering a life-altering record, I hope to see you fellows in the States at some point. A+ | Marcus Mercer