“The only bad part about flying is having to come back down.”
The line – from Zap! – so feverishly compact with nostalgia that it aptly sums up the Avalanches’ Wildflower so perfectly. We’re nothing but lucky to be getting this new album from the Avalanches – something the world had, before now, lost all hope for.
Nothing the Avalanches could have created after their critically acclaimed 2000 debut record, Since I Left You, would live up to expectations. I think the world buried their expectations soon after reading every “Albums We’re Still Expecting This Year” list. Since I Left You was a reflection against where music was headed at the time. An album so bizarrely fluid in its tactical and intelligent approach to sample fusion that it seemed so difficult to denote when one song ended and another began.
Wildflower is as much of a comment on 16 years worth of musical culture as it is a measured and altruistic development for this Australian group. The Avalanches operate in patchwork syndication with their music. Samples, carefully sliced and diced from their source material, piece together the bulk of the Avalanches’ song writing. At times, these fragments of music appear so out of context from their original foundation that it sometimes can feel unnerving and unsettling.
However nostalgia is Wildflower’s biggest selling point. The samples used, much like on their debut effort, have a realistically warming element to their fidelity. At times, the scratches from a record find their way into the mix and you can’t help but appreciate the Avalanches’ virtuosic construction process.
If I Was a Folkstar, which features Toro Y Moi, is a bouncy disco jam loaded with weary optimism. While The Wozard of Iz could be ripped from a ‘40s b-grade horror with rapper Danny Brown as the lead actor. The Noisy Eater, on the other hand, is a return to the Avalanches’ signature collage, hotpot approach to song writing much like their famed, Frontier Psychiatrist. Comically child-like while evoking feelings of the Gorillaz’s Superfast Jellyfish as Biz Markie helps make this one the Avalanches’ most bizarrely wicked tracks.
The Avalanches create music that’s so very unique; welcoming, ambiguous, warming. With Wildflower, the three-piece never wanted to outshine what their debut record has come to achieve, they simply wanted extend on it. A feat so difficult, especially considering their 16 year struggle, is has put hundreds of bands out of commission in the past.