7. The Avalanches, Since I Left You (Elektra, 2001)

On one end of the sampling spectrum, you have P. Diddy and "Ice Ice Baby"; on the other, you have this Australian collective. Since I Left You takes the kitsch-en sink approach DJ Shadow introduced on Endtroducing... about ten steps further, constructing a Frankenstein monster out of a disparate array of existing sounds. Yet, such a monster never moved about so gracefully. Suffused with layers and echoes and recurring motifs, this is an orchestrated work. It doesn't register as background noise all too well--you need to hear it on headphones to entirely feel and appreciate its depth and impact. The album opens with an androgynous vocalist repeatedly intoning "Since I left you / I've never felt so blue" and concludes an hour later as another finally responds "Girl I just can't get you / Since the day I left you". Between those two bookends, we hear a glittering assortment of funk, trip-hop, and disco, but it seems wrong to use those simple, recognizable terms. How exactly does one categorize a track like “Frontier Psychiatrist”, which creates a supple, silly, exuberant narrative out of a symphony of random snippets? Does it matter when it makes for a riveting dance party skewed more towards the mind than the feet?