It’s curious that a genre built from recorded artifacts has become one itself: the sample-based plunderphonics of The Avalanches, Fatboy Slim, DJ Shadow and others started doing the dinosaur around the turn of the 21st-century, when copyright lawyers began putting in serious overtime. Maybe that’s why it took this Australian crew 16 years to finish the follow-up to Since I Left You, which rivals Shadow’s …Endtroducing as the single greatest LP-length creation in the history of groove-mosaics. In any case, it’s a welcome return.
Like forefathers Steinski and Coldcut, they remain good with a stoner punchline, a la their signature “Frontier Psychiatrist” – see “Frankie Sinatra,” a giddy mashup built around “Bobby Sox Idol,” the 1940’s calypso that had Trinidadian expat Wilmouth Houdini challenging Ol’ Blue Eyes to a style war; here, Danny Brown and MF Doom drop in to make their own bids. But what still sets the Avalanches apart, besides their careful groove pacing, attention to detail, and uncanny ability to move you from inside a track to outside looking in, is their sweet sense of nostalgia. A kid sings along to Honey Cone’s ’71 soul gem “Want Ads” (“Because I’m Me”), Biz Markie makes like Cookie Monster while a youth chorus celebrates “juju eyeballs” (“The Noisy Eater”), and a wistfully trippy poet reflects on a woman (“Saturday Night Inside Out”). Like the Avalanches, they’re all looking backwards to try and make something new.