The Avalanches: Wikis


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The Avalanches
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Electronic music, Alternative Dance, Breakbeat, Plunderphonics
Years active 1997-present
Labels Modular Recordings
XL Recordings
Robbie Chater
Darren Seltmann
Tony Diblasi
Former members
Gordon McQuilten
Dexter Fabay
James De La Cruz
Manabu Etoh
Peter Whitford

The Avalanches are an electronic music group from Melbourne, Australia, best known for their live DJ sets and debut album Since I Left You, which was assembled from approximately 3,500 vinyl samples.[1]



The Avalanches began in 1994 as Alarm 115, a noise-punk outfit inspired by Drive Like Jehu, The Fall and Ultra Bidet.[2] The band (Darren Seltmann, Robbie Chater, Tony Diblasi and Manabu Etoh) bought all their instruments at junk shops, where they also discovered piles of old records. When Etoh was deported and Alarm 115 ended, those records became the core of a new project. Chater was a film student at RMIT, and had access to a recording studio there, which he and Seltmann used to turn said vinyl into a 30-song demo tape labeled Pan Amateurs.[2] In 1997, A new lineup (Seltmann, Chater, Diblasi, and Gordon McQuilten) was assembled to play the tunes live, debuting in July under the name Swinging Monkey Cocks.[2] Their first four shows were played under different names.

Early releases

They officially became The Avalanches at their fifth gig - a support slot for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - and rose to prominence quickly. Their name comes from one of the group's favorite records, "Ski Surfing With The Avalanches", by an American surf band from the Fifties.[3]

Trifekta Records released the debut 7" Rock City in spring 1997. This was followed in December by the El Producto EP on Steve Pavlovic's Wondergram Records. Around this time DJ Dexter officially joined the band on turntables.[2] Based on the EP's success, Pavlovic signed The Avalanches to his new Modular Recordings label in May 1998. Months later, Leo Silvermann signed them to his Rex Records for the exclusive UK 10" "Undersea Community".[4]

"Since I Left You"

The Avalanches' profile grew with support slots on tours by the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Stereolab and Beck. The band also played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert at Homebush, Sydney. James De La Cruz was added to the live lineup on turntables and keyboards, and made his debut with the band at The Palace, St Kilda, supporting Public Enemy.

Modular released the Electricity EP in Australia (12") and the UK (7"), while work continued on an album, under the working title 'Pablo's Cruise'.

In February 2000 the band finished mixing the album at Sing Sing studios, Melbourne.

By July, with Since I Left You now overdue, Chater's Gimix cassette was made available. It is a mixtape blending previews of the forthcoming album with some of the band's favourite songs.

The initial album launch date on 11 September was delayed, with the record hanging in limbo due to sample clearance & overseas interest. An early 2001 worldwide release was hoped for, although a 27 November Australian release was confirmed a few weeks later.

The first Australian single, Frontier Psychiatrist, was released in August. It reached #6 in Triple J's 2001 Hottest 100 countdown, the world's largest annual radio music poll.

In October 2000 the band undertook their first Australian headline tour, hitting all capital cities. All dates were completely sold out, however Seltmann broke his leg in Brisbane in an on-stage collision with bassist/singer Tony DiBlasi.

In November 2000 the Since I Left You album 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.

Since I Left You was eventually released in Australia in November 2000 and was nominated for nine ARIA awards. The Avalanches eventually took home four, Best New Artist Album, Best New Artist Single, Best Dance Act plus Producer Of The Year for Robbie and Darren. The band also won six Australian Dance Music Awards.

The band 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.

The UK version of 'Since I Left You', was released by XL Recordings in 2001, debuted at #8, and quickly topped 200,000 sales in the UK.

The first UK single from the album, also titled "Since I Left You", was released and debuted at No. 16 on the national charts. 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 Number 18. The video for 'Frontier Psychiatrist' was later awarded runner-up prize at Soho Shorts Film Festival in the UK.

The Avalanches also appeared on the front cover of Jockey Slut (Apr 2001) and Muzik magazines.

The band embarked on their European live tour. Peter "Snakey" Whitford was asked to become a touring percussionist with the band. Whitford spent his youth playing in the Afro Psych band Prophecy throughout the Indonesian Islands.

Seltmann broke his other leg during the band's second Electric Ballroom show in London, while De La Cruz is concussed onstage at the V2001 festival. The remaining live dates were changed to DJ sets. Despite this, the band eventually received the Best Live Act 2001 award from MUZIK magazine.

London-Sire Records released the US version in November 2001. When that label dissolved in 2003, The Avalanches switched to Elektra. The Album is also released in Japan, with bonus track 'Everyday'. The 'At Last Alone' EP (re-scheduled Tour EP with revised tracklisting) was also released in Japan.

In the U.S., the album peaked at No. 31 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 10 on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart.[5]

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 released worldwide.

Critics worldwide included Since I Left You on their "Best of 2001" lists. The album went on to place at #4 in 'Juice' magazines 'Best Australian albums of all time' list, and #10 in Pitchfork Media's top albums of the decade. In its December 31, 1999 review, Pitchfork Media bestowed the album with a high 9.5 score. [6]

Since I Left You contains numerous samples, including a sample of Madonna's hit single "Holiday" on the song "Stay Another Season".[7]

Live performance

Initially The Avalanches played live using samplers, analogue keyboards, bass guitar, drumkit and theremin.[1] Their set-up later included four turntables, a percussion stand, and a battery of MIDI-controlled special effects.[1]

The band was a favourite at 2000/2001 festivals, including the Big Day Out, Falls Festival and V1. Peter "Snakey" Whitford joined as percussionist for the August European tour. At the Electric Ballroom in London, Seltmann shattered an ankle on stage, which meant the remaining shows were DJ sets only. This format continued for the US and Japan "Since I Left You" tours. Chater, Dexter and De la Cruz also took the DJ show around Australia, calling themselves The Magic Midgets.



"Brains" is a monthly clubnight held outdoors behind the tiny Melbourne bar St Jeromes', and features regular DJ sets from Avalanches Robbie, Darren and Tony. St Jeromes' has since shut down in Melbourne from March 2009.

"Brains" is usually soca-inspired DJ sets , but can include anything from the Highlife guitar music of West Africa to unusual re edits of '80s acid house tracks, and sometimes even new Avalanches material. Far from a typical world music DJ set, the "Brains" nights are extremely loud and celebratory, with people overflowing into Caledonian Lane, the band bringing in a special P.A system to cope with the extra crowd. The "Brains" experience toured Australia in early 2005, and spilled over into the band's DJ sets at that year's St Jerome's Laneway Festival and Meredith Music Festival. The Avalanches continued DJing at Australian festivals such as Golden Plains and Splendour throughout 2006 and into 2007, although these sets were a return to a heavier 'club' sound and markedly different from the previous "Brains" DJ sets.

The second album

Details of The Avalanches' second album are sparse. Seltmann said in 2005 that after starting out as "ambient world music", the record was returning to more of a "party" sound. In 2006, Modular issued a press release stating "it's sounding like everything we dared not hope for, and so much more. They've made the record of their lives basically".[8] This was in response to a joke email which had reached the music press, in which Modular claimed it had rejected The Avalanches' new album.[9] In January 2007, the band stated via its website that roughly 40 tracks were being considered: "It's so fuckin' party you will die, much more hip-hop than you might expect, and while there is still no accurate estimated time of arrival, we're sure you're gonna love it when it arrives ... It's ended up sounding like the next logical step to "Since", we just had to go around in a big circle to get back to where we belong. And one day when you least expect it you'll wake up and the sample fairy will have left it under your pillow."[10]

The lack of updates and activity on the band's main page has led some to begin questioning the status of the second album, as well as the status of The Avalanches altogether. At one point, there was a brand new mix scheduled to be uploaded, The Big Tent, which has not yet appeared on the page. The forum has seen its share of speculation and questioning as to when, or if, The Avalanches will be producing any new music.

In December 2008 Steve Pav, the head of Modular records, stated that the new album would be delivered to him on Christmas Day. It was expected that the album would be released shortly after, but this never materialised, probably due to the factors below.[11]

A July 2009 release date was anticipated after Australia's Triple J DJ Zan Rowe discussed it on her show, but is now doubted after a post on the Avalanches forums, stating that there had been setbacks due to illness and, as on the previous album, sample clearance. Soon afterwards a source at XL recordings, the bands British label, made a statement to Planet Sound[12] saying that there is "no new album on the schedule at all, and it certainly won't be as soon as July. It'll be ready when it's ready.."

However early in May 2009 a cryptic image appeared on the news section[13] - consisting of Keith Moon's picture with Clearasil spot cream from the back cover of The Who's 1967 album, "The Who Sell Out", accompanied with the words "clearing samples", suggesting that the production of the album is finished, but copyright needs to be cleared. The status '...are clearing samples' has also appeared on their Myspace page. A page on has also appeared for the new album, titled "New Album TBA". At the beginning of July an article appeared on the Sydney Time Out website, featuring an interview with the head of Modular records, which mentions that the Avalanches album will be released sometime in 2009, but nothing came of that. [14]



Singles and EPs

  • "Rock City" (1997)
  • "El Producto" (1997)
  • "Undersea Community" (1999)
  • "Electricity" (1999)
  • "Frontier Psychiatrist" (2001)
  • "Since I Left You" (2001)
  • "Radio" (2001)
  • "A Different Feeling" (2001)
  • "At Last Alone" (2001)
  • "Frontier Psychiatrist" (re-issue 10th November 2008)



  1. ^ a b c Mark Pytlik (November 2006). "The Avalanches". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  2. ^ a b c d "Artist Profile – Avalanches". EMI. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  3. ^ "Sample Minds Set to Snowball". The London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2009-12-12.  
  4. ^ "Avalanches". HowlSpace. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  5. ^ See
  6. ^
  7. ^ See liner notes as well as review at
  8. ^ "Avalanches album update". 2006-08-03. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  9. ^ "The Avalanches album delay". 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  10. ^ "Avalanches album due". 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-06-16.  
  11. ^ "Modular promise new Avalanches record finished by Christmas". Triple J. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-12-24.  
  12. ^ "Avalanches Deny Release". Planet Sound. April 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  13. ^ "Sample Clearance In Progress?". 2009-05-??. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  14. ^ "Head of Modular records mentions Avalanches new album". 2009-07-03. Retrieved 2009-07-03.  

External links


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