The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

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Setherex
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The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby Setherex » Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:27 pm



"Wildflower"
The Avalanches
July 8, 2016
Plunderphonics

01. “The Leaves Were Falling”
02. “Because I’m Me”
03. “Frankie Sinatra”
04. “Subways”
05. “Going Home”
06. “If I Was a Folkstar”
07. “Colours”
08. “Zap!”
09. “The Noisy Eater”
10. “Wildflower”
11. “Harmony”
12. “Live a Lifetime Love”
13. “Park Music”
14. “Livin’ Underwater (Is Something Wild)”
15. “The Wozard of Iz”
16. “Over the Turnstiles”
17. “Sunshine”
18. “Light Up”
19. “Kaleidoscope Lovers”
20. “Stepkids”
21. “Saturday Night Inside Out”
22. “Frankie Sinatra (Extended Mix)"

Album streaming on Apple Music.

Nick
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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby Nick » Fri Jul 01, 2016 9:45 pm

I have it a listen last night. I'll have to give it some more before I fully form my opinion though. As for now, it's good. It's really good. But it's been 16 years, and "really good" just doesn't cut it, especially when the world already knows The Avalanches are capable of releasing a bona fide masterpiece.

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby Jackson » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:31 pm

I'm just got around to listening to this the last two weeks since I was on vacation when it came out. Since I Left You is my favorite album this century, so this was probably the highest built-in expectations I've had for a release since mbv in 2013. My verdict is that it's very good, and better than what was hinted at by the singles leading up to the release (which, as I expected, all work better as part of this album than as a whole).

So maybe it's not as good as Since I Left You...so what? Almost nothing is, and this is exactly the type of creative, fun psychedelic album that is a deserving AOTY contender. If any other artist released this it would probably be more celebrated.

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby acroamor » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:23 pm

I have a very lengthy write-up on this album somewhere in me, but I'm at work right now. I'll likely edit my full thoughts into this post once I get home.

EDIT: Check below
Last edited by acroamor on Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby whuntva » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:32 am

This is a very, very good album. I will say that much.

It may take a few more listens before I can call it a great one, but I did like this album a lot, especially the singles.

I kinda want a basement tapes/b-sides version where everything else they recorded in the fifteen year wait gets released. But the tracks they chose for this were spot on. It's the type of album I can just immerse my self in and let myself escape.
" Ah, yes! Our meager restitution"

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby Nick » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:05 am

Copy and pasting my thoughts from the 2016 Albums thread...

Oh, The Avalanches. Where do we even begin? 16 years ago they released "Since I Left You", one of the greatest albums ever created, my idea of a perfect 10, an album that took over 3,000 samples and pushed them together in ways nobody could've ever made before or since. It was true lightning in a bottle, and maybe it's because of these lofty expectations placed on everyone's favorite Australian plunderphonics group that it took so long to create a sophomore LP. But here we are.

The first song to be released from "Wildflower" was the Danny Brown and MF DOOM featuring "Frankie Sinatra", a long that was, for me, hate on first listen. The song is essentially an electro swing ditty, which creates problems for me right from the get go. Electro swing is among my least favorite genres. Where some artists are able to take two disparate genres and push them together in ways that complement each other (think Run-DMC's rendition of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way", a rendition that highlights the similarities between rock and rap instead of highlighting the differences. Upon hearing the Run-DMC version all one can think of is how similar the drums on the Aerosmith version sound like the percussion on a rap song, how suitable the guitar part is for a bit of turntablism, and how akin Steve Tyler's vocal delivery is to rapping), electro swing combines two genres in the laziest of ways, awkwardly forcing these two genres together like a square peg into a round hole. I often think that fans of the genre aren't actually interested in swing music at all, but are instead interested in the idea of swing music, the idea of going to some Great Gatsby themed party and drinking champagne and talking in old timey slang without actually subjecting themselves to a Benny Goodman record. Hence, electro swing.

That all being said, "Frankie Sinatra" is, to give credit where credit is due, among the best electro swing songs I've heard, and even manages to sound better in the context of the album. The album version of the song even cleans up the production a bit, allowing the verses from Brown and DOOM to gain a level of intelligibility that was missing from the poorly mastered music video version. Though none of this can still excuse some of the awful, out of place lyrics on the song, like when Brown raps...

"I'm so high

You're so high

If I take another sip then I just might die

Take another sip then I just might lie

Tell her what she wanna hear just to get between them thighs"

...as well as the awkwardly forced "My Favorite Things" interpolation that closes out the song. Some of the other songs on the album, like "Colours" and "If I Was a Folkstar" show a great deal of promise with their comfortable, laid back summer good times vibe aesthetic, but also encapsulate one of the major problems facing "Wildflower", the fact that many of these songs have a serious issue with progression. It feels, upon listening to many of these songs, that after you've heard the first minute to minute and a half, you've essentially heard the entire song. The songs on "Since I Left You" progressed, changing things up as they moved effortlessly from sample to sample. "If I Was a Folkstar", for instance, is a song made out of one admittedly catchy synth riff. And even when the songs here do progress, they tend to do so in the wrong way. "The Wozard of Iz" starts off amazing, with an ominous beat and some strange high pitched singing (chanting?), but then trails off during the second half, unable to keep its own momentum up. And let's not even get into the Biz Markie featuring "Noisy Eater", a song that interrupts the flow of the album in a half-assed "Superfast Jellyfish" ripoff.

But enough about the negatives here. Despite all of this I have to admit, the album is still really good. The overwhelming majority of the songs here manage to evoke that same laid back summer good times vibe that made "Since I Left You" such a classic. And while the songs here never reach the level of craft that they do on their debut album, there are more than enough great songs to go around. The track "Because I'm Me" works as an updated version of Jay-Z's "December 4th" (from a purely sonic perspective, not so lyrically), and is an all around amazing opening track, a track that embodies triumph and individuality and determination. And "Subways" could fit right in with "Since I Left You" and still manage to stand out as among the best songs of that album. And the album still manages to capture that same sense of journey that their debut did, making you feel like you really are be taken for a ride throughout the disparate genres and moods of "Wildflower". Say what you will about some of the album's lesser songs, but this album is a master of cohesion (except, of course, for "The Noisy Eater"). Granted, this commitment to cohesion shouldn't come as a surprise to any fans of the Avalanches, seeing as "Since I Left You" is effectively a 60 minute long song split up into 18 tracks. But it's still nice to see The Avalanches commit to some of the key ideas of their first album without simply creating a "Since I Left You 2: Electric Boogaloo".

And so here we are, in 2016. We have the new Daft Punk album. The new Boards of Canada album. The new My Bloody Valentine album. The new Dr. Dre album. We even have "SMiLE". And now we have the new Avalanches album. Was it worth the wait? No, probably not. "Wildflower" is really good, but let's get this clear, it's no masterpiece. It's not even close to some of those other "comeback albums", like "Random Access Memories" and "m b v". Truth be told, "Wildflower" could've just as easily come out in 2002. It doesn't sound like an album that took over a decade and a half to create, which is really just headscratching. How does a group with a bona fide masterpiece under the belt take 16 years to make a perfectly...good album?

Oh well, questions like these will never be answered. For now, let's just enjoy what we have. A perfectly good album is still nothing to complain about.

Verdict: Very Good

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby Maschine_Man » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:21 am

The album grew on me much faster than Since I Left You. I think there are a few questionable moments, but none of them last for that long or even bother me in the context of the rest of the album. I do think the album version of Frankie Sinatra is much better than the single.

I find it interesting the divide on Noisy Eater I have seen quite a few of my friend post that it is their favorite song off the album, and I have to admit I kinda love it. Like Nick said though, it does feel like a xeroxed version of Superfast Jellyfish.

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby PlasticRam » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:38 am

Cool sounds. 4 stars. Might grow on me.
I feel like that

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Re: The Avalanches' "Wildflower"

Postby acroamor » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:28 am

I'll put this in a new post because it seems no one checks edits and I would like this to be seen.

I suppose in talking about this album, I should establish a bit of personal context to this album. I know this isn't normally what we discuss here or if there's some unspoken rule against it, but I might as well go for it. The first time I tripped LSD was a few years ago and I listened through Since I Left You while I did it - and it was a marvelous experience. The second time I tripped LSD was a few weeks ago and I listened through Wildflower while I did it - again, a marvelous experience. I mean not to say that my enjoyment of either stems from psychedelic enhancement, but to say that I share a very strong and equally powerful attachment to each work.

Which I suppose brings me to my primary thoughts on Wildflower - it is fundamentally an equal work to Since I Left You and to couch one's review of it within the statement "While it's not as good as Since I Left You,..." is to deal a fundamental disservice to an amazing record, one that possesses as infinite a depth as its predecessor. SILY (fun acronym) practically defines the idea of a record that you have to listen to over and over again to "get", with its free-flowing structure and constantly shifting songform. Saying that Wildflower is its lesser is merely to admit that one has had less time to ingest it than the up-to-sixteen-years-time that our culture has had to take in SILY.

The sophomore slump affects many great artists, and the Avalanches were intimately aware of this. A SILY follow-up must possess the same evocative joy and protean flow, but while simultaneously staking out bold new territory. Perfectionism can kill a record, as in the case of Modest Mouse's latest record, but with Wildflower, the perfectionism was well-warranted. Many of Wildflower's tracks, like "Kaleidoscope Lovers" or "Sunshine", would have fit in neatly on SILY with their gently repetitive vocal lines and swirling strings. Yes, they proved, this is truly an Avalanches record.

Whenever I introduced a friend to Since I Left You, I introduced it as what it would sound like if "songs themselves got together and had a party". This description gets across the general feel of the album, if simplified. The Wildflower party has a different guest list. While SILY was beholden to string disco primarily, Wildflower takes its cues from late 60s psychedelic and even more surprisingly, hip-hop. MF Doom, Danny Brown, and Biz Markie - among others - hop in to the Wildflower party, imparting their own distinct voices into the mix, the most visible external influences in their work since their interpolation of Madonna's "Holiday" 16 years prior.

The presence of these voices has caused (like for Nick) a stylistic dissonance - what is Danny Brown's brassy voice doing here? But that question forgets what our first listens to SILY were like. The Avalanches deal in stylistic dissonance the way other artists deal in guitar licks and drum fills. It's just that a thousand re-listens to SILY has smoothed edges that once were sharp. "Frankie Sinatra" fills the same role that "Frontier Psychiatrist" did before it - one must simply here the oom-pah brass in each to tell. But the spoken-word samples of the former modernize into the rap verses of the latter. Is "I'm so high / you're so high" really any better or worse than "tighten your buttocks / or juice on your chin"?

And while the album has a few more breathing points than the singular SILY, this does not speak to a detriment. The interplay from song-to-song here outpaces almost any album shy of Dark Side - hear snippets of the paranoiac vocals of "The Wozard of Iz" first shimmer happily in "Livin Underwater". And listen to how many ways they can manipulate and distort the same pattern in "Kaleidoscope Lovers" before finally giving it to you in its perfect, purest form. Biz Markie and The Beatles exist on the same neon kid's show that is "The Noisy Eater". And I must give some love to my favorite track on the album, the perfect "Harmony", whose title and totality could serve as a motto for what it is The Avalanches, finding the communion between all songs and all sounds, each existing and flowing together in a perfect pattern, "it's all good, what we gonna do, we gonna scream out the letters of the alphabet, and in every letter you hear screamed out, from A to Z, harmony".

I'll finish this with an excerpt from Rick Moody's wonderful piece of music writing, "On Celestial Music", as I feel it's quite fitting for the subject material. Album of the year.

"Maybe we are talking about a union that might take place, in which I can be, ideally, some little spark, some match light in the mostly dark and empty universe, the thirteen dimensions of it, and my eternal match light would not necessarily require consciousness or lutes. And along with being this spark, I can imagine that I have a tone, and if I were going to pick one, I would pick something high, in the treble clef, something I couldn't reach when I was a baritone pretending to be a tenor. As this note, or some other note, I can imagine a heaven where I get to play this tone, and to collide with other notes, as if I were a constituent in a John Cage piece, and I don't have to have perfect rhythm, nor do I have to know my scales, because I am all scales. Therefore I have no responsibilities, as a note, I just am, because I can't be entirely eliminated, because that doesn't happen - energy gets reused - and in this piece of music you can come in anywhere, and you can be a part of it, or not a part of it, and this composition has a long duration, an eternal duration, but you don't have to worry about this, because you are no longer a perceiving entity, you are just the note and the note is a good thing to be, in this composition, which has all the characteristics that good things have, namely it causes no harm, and believes only in its iteration as goodness, which is harmony and sublimity, and all kinds of other music are apparent in this music, even though they are lost, all possible music is contained in this infinite music, so Otis Redding is in there, and Simon and Garfunkel, and Funkadelic, and Arvo Pärt, maybe even Rush, because everything is in there, and in this way I am gone and gone is good, but I am also a very excellent musician and no one is any better, except the artful arranger of all sounds."


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