Ooooh goody, I've been blessed with a really juicy nodeshell!
The Avalanches are one of the hip bands du jour - lauded as Oz's coolest cultural export of the noughties. Their name comes from one of their fave records: "Ski Surfing With The Avalanches" by an American surf band from the Fifties. The group comprises: DJ Dexter Fabay and James De La Cruz on decks and keyboards, Gordon McQuilten on synths and Tony Diblasi on bass and other instruments, along with Darren Seltmann and Robbie Chater.
It all started in 1997 with the release of Rock City by Trifekta Records, which aroused the interest of the Australian label Modular. A seven-track EP, El Producto followed and the group ended up playing dates with the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, lucky lads. Their Undersea Community EP was then re-released in 1998, after which keyboardist James De La Cruz was added to the line-up.
A huge amount of time was then spent creating Since I Left You, an hour-long 18-track album comprised almost entirely of tens of thousands of samples from a startlingly eclectic set of sources. The band scoured second-hand shops in Melbourne picking up a melange of copyright-free albums, but also used soundbites and baselines from a host of well-known artists - all of whom had to be approached by the band's US based lawyer for permission. The most optimistic of these requests was directed at Madonna - to lend part of her hit "Holiday" as the backing track for "Stay another season" - for the first time ever she agreed, so impressed was she with their work (or so the PR machine tells us).
The music itself has been described as a mix of electronica, funky breaks, dance and The Beach Boys. Or as one critic put it: "The Dark Side Of The Moon for the new millennium."
In the UK, The Avalanches achieved a massive amount of publicity, attracting celebrity fans such as Norman Cook and the Chemical Brothers, and performing DJ sets at Fabric and the Heavenly Social which were massively over-subscribed - though those who did get tickets did not regret it.
The album's title track was even used as the soundtrack to BBC1's cricket coverage ads - and when you start hearing your tracks as incidental music on TV you know you're doing something right - isn't that so Moby?!
Since I Left You (Label: Modular)
Rock City (Label: Trifeka)
El Producto EP (Label: Modular)
Undersea Community (Label: Rex)
Update, 8th August 2001: The Avalanches are playing at The Electric Ballroom in Camden Town, London, just down the road from my house tonight. And I can't get hold of a ticket. Doh!
Update, 8th August 2001, a bit later in the afternoon: Have just been given ticket for the world premiere of The Parole Officer starring Steve Coogan tonight, which I must say, more than makes up for missing The Avalanches. Hurrah!