Review Summary: Since I Left You falls into a rare category of album -innovative, unique, powerful, and definitive- and as such truly deserves to be called a modern classic. It is a tour de force of creation and impact, the combination if which elevates it to a level of
It has been a little over 12 years since Australian outfit The Avalanches released their debut, and to date only, album. Allegedly, album number two is on the way, although they appear to be taking their sweet time. And who could blame them? Since I Left You is not an album that is easy to follow it up. It falls into a rare category of album -innovative, unique, powerful, and definitive- and as such truly deserves to be called a modern classic. It is a tour de force of creation and impact, the combination if which elevates it to a level of utter brilliance.
First off is the albums construction. When I recommend it to others, I am usually asked what type of music it is. This is not an easily answered question. Built over the course of almost a year at the tail end of the 90’s, Since I Left You is made entirely from samples taken from an estimated 3500 different records. Consequently, it is incredibly hard to define. Often within an instant, it goes from sounding like a smooth house record (“Electricity”), to 1950’s surrealism (“Frontier Psychiatrist”) to straight up dance music (“Live At Dominoes”). Despite this, the album retains a remarkable level of consistency. Regardless of the style it embodies at any given moment, it never strays too far from the path clearly established by the opening track, thus giving way to its greatest strength.
An increasingly prevalent issue in the music of the last ten years is the importance of the album as an entity. The power of the 99 cent download and the single have outweighed the power of the LP for quite some time now, to the point where albums are simply becoming packages for a series of singles. That said Since I Left You is one of the most powerful album statements in recent memory. By never allowing for a second of silence in its 60 minute running time, as well as constructing a full circle storyline, it renders itself incredibly impactful. By the time the sample repeated both at the beginning and end fades out, the sensation of a complete experience is felt. This is a feat in music that is very difficult to achieve, made even more remarkable by the variety present throughout the 18 songs. In the end, through this very variety, it generates a vast amount of emotional resonance.
Since I Left You is an album of universal themes. The youthful and warm atmosphere that branches each of the songs together are sensations known to all mankind, which allows for the impact it creates. However, as with nearly all albums, weak points are found throughout. But because of the albums themes and variety of sound, these weak points are entirely subjective. The frenetic breaks of “Flight Tonight” can be a point of exhilaration or irritation depending on the listener, and that is exactly what Since I Left You aims to achieve. It is an album of moments and feelings familiar to each and every listener, and by tying these moments together, ultimately becomes the sum of its parts. At a point, the track listing ceases to become relevant, and through the intertwining sounds, the heart of the album is found.
Happiness and youth can never truly die, and can be felt throughout every era. Since I Left You is a cumulative celebration of all these eras, and as such taps into the rhythm of life itself. The album revels in the past, while ultimately points forward, leading to a world of it’s own creation. A world so new, inventive, and full of life, that it may be cherished with every listen as if it has just been discovered. And to experience this rediscovery is to experience something so wonderful and powerful that at times it lacks definition, existing in the very microcosm it gives birth too. This is ultimately turns Since I Left You into what it is: a great and beautiful album. It is an absolute classic, fit to be recommended to anyone.