The Avalanches - A Different Feeling
It's difficult to separate the cosmic swirl of "A Different Feeling" from all the other beautiful (and significantly, mixed together) moments on The Avalanches' Since I Left You album, but I will 'cause it's the one I heard in the shop and nearly swooned over. The Avalanches, in case you don't know, are very very broadly speaking an Australian hip hop group. Or something. Actually they started as one of those agit-hip-hop-punk groups (you know, the type that rap raucously over a boombox), but have since evolved into an entirely different beast.
You can hear just how different here, or indeed any of the other tracks on their wildly diverse new album. The Avalanches have that knack of putting you in mind of a hundred different tracks at once - not surprising, really, seeing as Since I Left You is constructed almost entirely from samples. "A Different Feeling", with its sashaying, phased disco string samples, loping 4/4 beat, laser beam synthesisers, glittering cymbal-hits, disembodied voices, Satiesque piano and its gorgeous, poignant string-led breakdown, is perhaps the most heartbreakingly beautiful piece of music I've heard this year. Superficially, it's a house track, but it's house that owes as much to A.R. Kane, Disco Inferno and Saint Etienne as to Todd Terry or Basement Jaxx.
What's most fascinating about "A Different Feeling" is the fact that The Avalanches are not dance musicians per se - they've chosen house as their medium to work within on this track because it seems to fit, but on the album it jostles with cinematic hip hop and Bacharach style pop. It's a risky gambit, but importantly it doesn't seem self-conscious, like so many stabs at dance music by the rock fraternity turn out. Like the aforementioned groups, The Avalanches experiment in order to make joyful music, rather than for experimentalism's sake alone, and if I can't help getting excited about them, it's because this is the first time in a long while that a band's music has seemed so thoroughly out there, and yet at the same time so resolutely alive.
Some thoughts on the album (perhaps even a full article) when I've gotten my head around it.