The Avalanches Return to Earth with “Frankie Sinatra” Clip
How do you follow up one of the most mythical records of the past twenty years? You blow out that beat.
The Avalanches didn’t have to do this. In the sixteen years that have passed since the group released their debut, 2000’s Since I Left You, the album’s legacy has nearly overshadowed its merits. Comprised of an estimated 3500 samples, Since I Left You is a kaleidoscopic achievement that builds on the patchwork funk of Paul’s Boutique and predicts the ever-shifting controlled turmoil of Person Pitch. Plus you can dance to it.
The weight of those samples, and the obvious legal hurdle they presented for any future projects, gave Since I Left You a wispy patina—you got the sense that nothing like it could ever happen again. Even if that wasn’t technically true—Copenhagen DJs Den Sorte Skol have been putting together similarly intricate sample tapestries for years, most recently with 2015’s Indians & Cowboys—the transience inherent in Since I Left You’s assumed narrative made listening to it feel like dancing in the dying light of a temporarily lawless era. Put differently, it’s a brilliant record whose listening experience is enhanced by its similarly brilliant context.
For years now, there have been rumblings that the project would make its return. In 2012, they partnered with similarly reclusive Silver Jew David Berman for “A Cowboy Overflow of the Heart,” a moody spoken-word piece that couldn’t possibly be further from the crepuscular joy of Since I Left You. Rumors and purposefully leaked lyrics persisted. And now, we have the bonafide, Astralwerks-backed guarantee of a new record in Wildflower, which is out June 8, and the lead single “Frankie Sinatra,” which features Danny Brown and MF Doom.
If there were questions as to how the group would adapt to the legal strictures that confront them in 2016, “Frankie Sinatra” (which has been a confirmed track since at least 2012) would seem to answer them. The song is built around clips of calypso singer Wimoth Houdini feting Old Blue Eyes, shifting joyously into a big-beat track that wouldn’t have been totally out of place on Kaytranada’s 99.9%. Its video, which was shot in the swamps surrounding New Orleans, is below.
But what’s most intriguing is how easily Brown and Doom engage the track. While the sampled vocals on Since I Left You essentially served as another sonic element in the flow of the songs, and the Berman vocal on “A Cowboy Overflow of the Heart” comprised nearly the entirety of the song, “Frankie Sinatra” is the closest thing to a conventional hip-hop beat The Avalanches could possibly create. Of course, that’s a relative statement—we’re treated to a brief interlude of “My Favorite Things” that parlays its way into a collage of voices and crackles that vaguely recall The Beatles’ “Revolution 9.” But there’s a budding sense here that Wildflower might find its lineage not in Since I Left You, but in Doom’s own collaboration with Madlib, 2004’s Madvillainy. Time being a flat circle, the ebullience of that album’s sound means that The Avalanches have acclimated themselves to our present reality just fine.
Wildflower track list
1. The Leaves Were Falling
2. Because I’m Me
3. Frankie Sinatra
5. Going Home
6. If I Was A Folkstar
9. Noisy Eater
12. Live A Lifetime Love
13. Park Music
14. Livin’ Underwater (Is Somethin’ Wild)
15. The Wozard Of Iz
16. Over The Turnstiles
18. Light Up
19. Kaleidoscopic Lovers
21. Saturday Night Inside Out
Wildflower is out July 8 on Astralwerks.