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1. The Avalanches – Since I Left You

23/12/2009

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Although every constituent part of Since I Left You predates the noughties, the record’s magpie assembly is perhaps the defining characteristic of this decade. But while Since I Left You is massively emblematic of post-millennial pop culture, that’s just an interesting aside. The real reason that it tops this chart is, quite simply, for its unparalleled, sun-drenched joy. From top to bottom and start to finish, Since I Left You is summer. It is warm and blissful, everything is light and beautiful. It’s airy and frolicking and sweet. But this is no saccharine, paper-thin infusion of pop dance – Since I Left You’s layers offer it a density that makes it feel like joy upon further joy; the real deal. It’s the sound of sherbet fizzing on the tongue, the sound of cartwheel-turning, all-consuming love, all at once. The doo-wop backing singers at the very start, the jazzy flute lick, the laid-back, swooping strings – with every passing snippet, a broader smile is cut. Then the vocal hook comes in, flipping the sadness of the song’s title and telling everyone that “since I met you I found a world so new”, and the track moves skywards.
      While the single fades out after four minutes, the sprawling love song continues in every possible guise for an hour, eventually returning to Main Attraction’s sample to close out the album. There may have been more serious, world-changing records made this decade, but in Since I Left You, the Avalanches have created a fleeting glimpse of pure rapture. Everyone should fall in love to this record. Everyone should raise a glass to it. The introduction goes “Get a drink, have a good time now, welcome to paradise”. Welcome indeed.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    24/12/2009 1:07 am

    Nice finale choice. Thanks for writing The Decade blog, I had some excellent memories stirred up by listening to a lot of these tunes.

  2. Rob permalink
    24/12/2009 10:30 am

    Well I certainly didn’t see that coming…

  3. 24/12/2009 11:17 am

    Likewise, I did not expect the Spanish Inquisition… sorry, the Avalanches…

    And it’s weird listening to it at Xmas… being such a summer tune.

    And it wouldn’t even have made my list, I don’t think.

    But…

    …it’s a great song that could ONLY have been made at the start of the noughties. For two reasons – one cultural, one technological.

    Firstly, the cultural: it’s a song made by grabbing from the decades that preceded it and creating something fresh, which is maybe what most of the great music (and films and television and fashion and so on) of this decade have all done… taken that which has gone before, and created something that feels new.

    It’s a sound very of its era, because it’s comprised of lots of other eras.

    Secondly, the technological: It’s a song born of a weird, complex collection of studio gear, large amounts of disk storage space to collect samples (made possible by progress in accordance with Moore’s Law of course), use of the internet to share, communicate, discover, use of ProTools to make the project manageable…

    (If you’re so inclined, there’s a full description of their studio approach here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov02/articles/avalanches.asp)

    …so basically, only by the beginning of the decade was the technology in place to make this song possible.

    So I guess I’m saying that despite your selection caveat below about the it being on a song’s merit (and nothing to do with cultural relevance)…

    …for me it would make the list because it sounds like nothing that’s gone before, because it’s made from all the sounds that have gone before, fused in the modern technological cauldron of witchcraft.

    (I’m away to cry in my own geeky xmassy corner now…)

  4. Sam permalink*
    24/12/2009 11:32 am

    RE: John’s comment – agreed! From a technical side, I think Since I Left You feels important because it was done when the idea of mash-up/entirely sample-driven music was still fresh* and relatively difficult to do well, and there was a feeling of alchemy and WTF/how-did-they-do-that to the record, which made the actual music sound even more exciting. And I’m sure that that zing of the new is part of what makes up the far less quantifiable feeling of joy and love that I feel for this song.

    But maybe that all digs a bit too deep for a record that is just so thrilling. I just remember being knocked off my feet by it when I first heard it, and if I’m honest, I still am today, literally** thousands of listens on.

    But nice Sound On Sound link too.

    *yes, I know, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, but still, there wasn’t as much of it about ten years ago as there is now!

    **maybe not literally

  5. Kat Arney permalink
    24/12/2009 1:52 pm

    Thanks for doing the countdown Sam! I’ve really enjoyed following it, hearing some old faves, finding some new music, and occasionally violently disagreeing with you.
    Have a lovely Christmas and a happy new year, see you soon,
    K

  6. Nick Shanagher permalink
    22/01/2010 11:37 am

    It is a neat song and a good rationale for selection. Michael pointed me at the site as a great idea of web publishing, which it true. As an older listener, on top it reminds me of Eighties British funk, but the depth of sound is great. Thanks for the introduction.

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