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The Avalanches - We Will Always Love You (Album Review)

Thursday, 17 December 2020 Written by Matty Pywell

Photo: Grant Spanier

Twenty years ago, the Avalanches set out to showcase the boundless possibilities of sampling with their debut LP ‘Since I Left You’, repurposing fragments of old songs into cohesive new tracks with completely altered personalities. On 2016’s long-awaited ‘Wildflower’ they added guest performers including Danny Brown to the mix. Now, with ‘We Will Always Love You’ the Australian duo have turned their gaze upwards, beyond our skies.

The producers—Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi—found themselves inspired by  cultural missives sent into space from Earth, specifically the Voyager Golden Record, which journeyed into the cosmos in 1977.  Appropriately, a lot of ‘We Will Always Love You’ concerns itself with sentiments of love, hope and humanity.

The album often enters cosmic territory itself. The Avalanches’ formula of stitching together samples is as potent as ever, and they seek to ape the Golden Record’s cut and paste assemblage by combining products of the past with contemporary sounds to create songs that yearn for a reply from the stars, or look to the future.

With 25 tracks and over an hour of runtime to get through the album is initially a daunting task, but its weightiness is easy to forget. The Avalanches have a talent for beautifully constructed experiences, with each individual track feeding into the wider tapestry. On repeat listens we are rewarded for paying attention to the intricacies, the whirrs and bleeps and zaps of electricity that make us feel as though we’re in an Apollo rocket.

The guests on the album range from Blood Orange to Kurt Vile and Johnny Marr, and not only do the Avalanches manage to meld such different artists together, each contributor delivers an authentic performance. The lyrics on ‘We Will Always Love You’ may never reach more than a skin-deep level but the integration of each individual aspect is inspired. This isn’t about floor fillers, it’s about a melodic journey towards some much-needed escapism.

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