The Avalanches are an Australian electronic music group formed in Melbourne in 1997. They are known for their two studio albums Since I Left You (2000) and Wildflower (2016), their upcoming album We Will Always Love you (2020) as well as their live and recorded DJ sets. Since I Left You was a critical and commercial success, receiving multiple awards. It was followed in 2016 by Wildflower, which also received critical acclaim.
Three future Avalanches members formed Alarm 115 in Melbourne in 1994 as a noise punk outfit inspired by Drive Like Jehu, The Fall, and Ultra Bide. The line-up was Robbie Chater on keyboards, Tony Di Blasi on keyboards, bass and backing vocals, and Darren Seltmann on vocals. By 1995, Manabu Etoh joined on drums. The group bought instruments, recording gear and numerous old vinyl records by the crate at second-hand shops. Etoh then left and Alarm 115 disbanded, and these records became the core of a new project. Chater was a film student at RMIT University and had access to a recording studio, which he and Seltmann used to turn the records into a 30-song demo tape labelled Pan Amateurs. In 1997 a new group consisting of Chater, Di Blasi, Seltmann, and Gordon McQuilten on keyboards was assembled to play the tracks live. Chater, Di Blasi and McQuilten had all been school mates in Maryborough. Starting in July, their first four shows were played under different names: Swinging Monkey Cocks, Quentin's Brittle Bones, and Whoops Downs Syndrome. The group became "The Avalanches" at their fifth gig, borrowing the new band name from an American surf rock band, which recorded only one album, Ski Surfin' with the Avalanches, in 1963.
From mid-1998, the Avalanches had been recording their debut album, initially under the working title Pablo's Cruise. In February 2000 they finished mixing it at Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne. Its initial launch date in 2000 was delayed due to the need for sample clearances and overseas interest. By July, with the album, now titled Since I Left You, overdue, Chater's Gimix cassette was made available. This mixtape blended previews of forthcoming album tracks with some band favourites. Chater estimated that Since I Left You was assembled from approximately 3,500 vinyl samples. The first Australian single from the album, "Frontier Psychiatrist", was issued in August, which peaked in the top 50 on the ARIA Singles Chart. It reached No. 6 in Triple J's 2000 Hottest 100 countdown, the world's largest annual radio music poll. In October the band undertook their first Australian headline tour, appearing in all capital cities. All dates were completely sold out. Seltmann broke his leg in Brisbane in an on-stage collision with bassist and singer Di Blasi.
In November 2000, Since I Left You was launched in Melbourne with a boat cruise party aboard the Victoria Star, through Port Phillip Bay, with The Face and other UK media flying to Australia to cover the event. The band won six Australian Dance Music Awards. They travelled to the UK for a three-week promotional stint, including DJ sets at the Social and Fabric Nightclubs, while their remix of Badly Drawn Boy's "The Shining" was released in the UK. Since I Left You contained numerous samples, including a sample of Madonna's "Holiday" on the track "Stay Another Season".
The UK version of Since I Left You was released by XL Recordings in 2001, which debuted at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart in April, and quickly topped 200,000 sales in the UK. Also that month, the first UK single from the album, the title track "Since I Left You", was released and debuted at No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart.
The "Since I Left You" video won Video of the Year at the MTV Europe Music Awards. In July 2001 the second UK single, "Frontier Psychiatrist", debuted at No. 18. The video for "Frontier Psychiatrist" was later awarded the runner-up prize at Soho Shorts Film Festival in the UK. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2001, the group won four categories, Best New Artist – Album and Best Dance Release for Since I Left You, Best New Artist – Single for "Frontier Psychiatrist", and Producer of the Year for Bobbydazzler (production name for Chater and Seltmann). They were also nominated in five additional categories, Album of the Year and Best Group for Since I Left You, Single of the Year for "Frontier Psychiatrist", Enginer of the Year by Tony Espie and Bobbydazzler and Best Cover Art by Bobbydazzler for Since I Left You.
London-Sire Records released the United States version in November 2001. When the label dissolved in 2003, the Avalanches switched to Elektra. The album was also released in Japan, with bonus track "Everyday". The At Last Alone EP (rescheduled tour EP with revised track listing) was also issued in Japan. In the United States, the album peaked at No. 31 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 10 on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart. In the US, a promotional "Since I Left You" 12" featuring remixes from Stereolab and Prince Paul was released, and the Avalanches' remix of the Manic Street Preachers' "So Why So Sad" was issued worldwide.
Professional critics included Since I Left You on their "Best of 2000s" lists. The album was placed at No. 4 in Juice magazine's 'Best Australian albums of all time' list, and No. 10 in Pitchfork Media's top albums of the decade. In its review, Pitchfork Media bestowed the album with a high 9.5 score. In October 2010, the album was listed at No. 10 in the book 100 Best Australian Albums. In 2011, American hip hop artist Questlove named Since I Left You in his top ten albums list.
The Avalanches had been working on their second album since at least 2005. Seltmann had said the album was starting out as "ambient world music", but it was still moving in different directions and would feature both samples and live music. Chater later revealed that Seltmann had left the group by 2006, "we stopped working together… I was always making stuff and getting on with it, and the new record wasn't materialising quickly. He had a kid, a family, and I guess he realised before I did that it was going to take a long time."
Subsequent announcements were made of the album's release, however, it had not appeared by December 2011. Other artists began to announce having worked with the band on tracks around that time. In February 2014 Modular Recordings confirmed Seltmann had left, stating "officially the band is Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi right now." The band's official Facebook page was updated in 2015, listing James Dela Cruz had rejoined.
In April 2016 the Avalanches added new images of a gold butterfly on black cloth to their social media accounts and official website. On 24 May, the group posted a video poking fun at their long hiatus since their last album and the continued speculation of a follow-up release. On 2 June 2016 the lead single, "Frankie Sinatra", from their second album, was premiered on Australian radio station Triple J. The title of the album was revealed the same day to be Wildflower. It appeared in the following month, with Chater ad Di Blasi as co-producers.
At the ARIA Music Awards of 2016 the group received six more nominations, Album of the Year, Best Dance Release and Best Group for Wildflower; Producer of the Year for Chater and Di Blasi; Engineer of the Year for Chater and Espie; and Best Cover Art for Lost Art (Chater). At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, it received an average score of 83, based on 33 reviews, indicating critical acclaim. It peaked at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart.
On 11 February 2020, the Avalanches posted a photo of a promotional billboard in Melbourne advertising a website. On the website, a video played containing several faint voices, followed by a Morse code message stating 'WWALY'. On 14 February, the website was updated with a second video containing another morse code message, this time spelling "20 FEB". Two days later on 16 February, the Avalanches posted a photo of a second billboard in London.
On 20 February 2020, the Avalanches released a single, "We Will Always Love You" featuring Blood Orange. With this release, they also confirmed the expected release of their third studio album. On 18 March, they released another single, "Running Red Lights" featuring Pink Siifu and Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. The song is dedicated to David Berman and features lyrics from the Purple Mountains song "Darkness and Cold."
On September 9, the band confirmed via an Instagram post that their new album will be titled We Will Always Love You. The album is set to be released on December 11, 2020 and will feature contributions from Denzel Curry, Tricky and Jamie XX.
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