Listening to The Avalanches
' "At Home" dj sets is not quite as revelatory an experience as the 2 Many DJs album, but it's still one hell of a rush. 'Bobby Dazzler' (their non de plume) doesn't share the 'how-do-they-do-that?' audacity and technical skill of the Soulwax boys (to date the Madonna-meets-Bob Dylan bootleg on their Gimix
mix remains their most astonishing soundclash) and these sets are anything but a smooth ride, but their enthusiasm and open-mindedness make up for it, rifling through folk, gangsta rap, techno, arena rock, chart pop, drill & bass and The Beach Boys with a mixture of gleeful impatience and reverent joy.
That the gently strummed, orchestrated pop of the aforementioned band's "Matchpoint Of Our Love" segues into the sunkissed shoegazer-disco of The Chemical Brothers' "Setting Sun" should give you an idea of the sort of emotions that The Avalanches deal in. Like 2 Many DJs, they love pop in all its forms, but they're less enamoured of its trashy, throwaway glamour (perhaps the motivation behind the prevalence of electroclash stuff on As Heard On Radio Soulwax
); rather, they're intoxicated by its endearing openheartedness, its blissful, skin-tingling textures and its sunny, halcyonic choruses. Both projects are invested in pop as a communal experience (hence the emphasis placed on recognisable toons), but I get the impression that these acts play at different house parties, or at least in different parts of the house - if 2 Many DJs shake the basement and dominate the tiny radio servicing the impromptu gathering in the kitchen, The Avalanches rarely leave the pool-side patio.
What I love most about both though is a certain improbability of emotions - on one of The Avalanches' sets Missy's "One Minute Man" is transformed into grandiose aristocratic melodrama over J Walk's "Soul Vibration" - that captures something of the way in which pop mediates our experiences, taking on added colours and flvours to suit the contexts and the experiences they find themselves accomplices to. Listening to pop songs on my computer is fun, but it's a relatively isolated experience, rarely venturing outside the borders of the song itself. It's a good way to listen to music I intend to write about, but hardly conducive of soundtrack-to-life experiences. With their rough'n'tumble of sounds and emotions, 2 Many DJs and The Avalanches act like the radio dial to your life in praxis - spin it and your hands and the dial change colour.