16 years is a long time to be absent from the musical world but it’s testament to the charisma uniqueness, nerve and talent of the Avalanches and their debut album Since I Left You that anyone still gives a toss.
People care because the Australians created summat of a sunny masterpiece in that first release. As era-defining records go, it’s one of the best for folk of our ever advancing years, a dreamy kaleidoscope of samples and car boot beats that sounds as weird, futuristic and out there now as it did back then when we were all about sleeping in and getting stoned. Man. File it next to De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising or Donuts by J Dilla. It’s that good.
During their much protracted absence, there have been plenty of rumours, stop start stories and half truths about their return. Will they? Won’t they? Is it them? Or is it a dream? It meant that when the first wafts of stirring first hit our noses a month so ago, they were greeted with some serious snorts. Were they actually getting off their arses and doing something?
Well, it’s turned out that the stories were truth and the Avalanches (or what’s left of them) are back with a new album WildFlower due to appear this summer. Hooray? Or hooro? It’s hard to say but from the first UK live show we saw at London’s Oval Space last night, it might have been more sensible (but possibly less fun) to let this sleeping giant lie. I guess everyone needs to pay the rent somehow.
As evenings go, this one was a massive sweaty mess and a lesson on how to piss all over yourself - either the most gloriously punk of all acts or the worst thing ever depending on how generous you’re feeling towards whoever is doing the pissing. Rather than a full band, the Avalanches opted for a deck and effects vibe with Tony Di Blasi, the slightly chubbier of the pair, totally shitfaced and doing a lot of dad dancing. He tried and failed to mix, gave away his coat and necked champagne throughout while hugging his scrawnier colleague Robbie Chater who was gamely attempting to keep it together with a mixture of Avalanches moments, hip hop and Beach Boys.
It was pretty funny and reminiscent of when we used to do the trainwreck parties as Rough Disko. We used to adopt the approach that it’d be better to get shit faced, mix badly and have a wicked time than retain any sense of ‘professionalism’. We were our own worst enemies but who cares ‘cos we only did the night to please ourselves and if anyone turned up it was a bonus (and meant we could do another). Unlike the Avalanches we weren’t charging 20 quid a ticket. Or hosting a party in a club where it’s five pounds for a small can of lager, effectively making it ten pounds for a pint. Not only is gentrification going on on the streets but it’s also alive, well and robbing you blind in da club too. Bastards.
But the Avalanches weren’t to blame for Oval Space, the beer prices or even for losing their shit. If it’s only your second night out in 16 years, you’d bound to get a bit over excited. So it was a sweaty shambles for sure but fingers, knees, toes and knobbly bits all firmly crossed for the album. Dear Avalanches - although Frankie Sinatra is weak, please, please, please don’t fuck that up too (much)...