Monday, October 17, 2005:

The Avalanches: Run DNA / Frontier Psychiatrist / Thank You Caroline

My Neighbor Totoro
The Avalanches -- Run DNA
The Avalanches -- Thank You Caroline [Andy Votel remix]
The Avalanches -- Frontier Psychiatrist
The Avalanches are an Australian turntablism group that everyone seems to want to call quirky. For lack of a better word, I'll call them quirky too. It's not a bad thing, though; I consider them deliciously off-kilter, in much the same way as many of the Miyazaki films: quirky/endearing/intriguing, not quirky/creepy/alarming. Their work varies a bit depending on the outing (I guess it's to be expected with anywhere between two and ten people in the group); some of it is simple, repetitive dance music, good for background noise while you're working on some task; other tracks are more aggressive and catchy, forcing you to pay attention. What's on offer today is a range.

"Run DNA" is dance/hip hop/turntablism with a rocking electronic organ riff; it's a bit of lightweight fun with some silly lyrics. "Stylus in my jeans? It's in my backpack."

"Thank You Caroline" is more in the background/chillout grouping; it's a fine track to listen to while organizing LPs or, I don't know, writing an overdue post for an mp3blog. This is the Andy Votel Remix, and I don't think I've heard the original so I have no grounds for comparison. What I like about this one, though, is the chimes with distorted synth, the bassline, the stringed instrument (is that a cello? I can't place it, but I like it), the way the song seems to sprawl out in impossible positions like a sonic cat.

"Frontier Psychiatrist" is pretty far afield in their work, perhaps the wildest and best thing they've recorded. Great things about this song:
The Dexter's Lab Polyester samples ("it is the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane" / "He was white as a sheet / And he also made false teeth");*
the drumbeat (grooved like a cart-road from the 16th century);
the oohs and ahhs (ghostly oohs and ahhs, I learn from watching the video);
the scratching;
the horse;
the horns;
"I promised my girlfriend I'd pick up the violin";
the violin;
the cuckoo;
"sometimes a parrot talks";
and then the parrot talks.

I'm curious, though, why it's just a random scream in it and not a Wilhelm scream (see also: this radio program). This scream is pitched too low for it, and with their love of kitsch, pop culture, and whimsy, I find it hard to believe The Avalanches didn't know about Wilhelm and consider dropping him in.

9x: Does anybody in the band ski or has anyone been in an avalanche?
RC: No.
Other pressing questions answered here.
"Frontier Psychiatrist" video
Avalanches' official site
[]: At Last Alone [IMPORT]
[]: Since I Left You
[] El Producto seems to have gone out of print.


Yes, I'm still with this running mix that started with Big Bill Broonzy, a jog I was ill-prepared for, and dreams of trains. I'm about to start walking, though, and we'll soon be home. And then I'll post these other things I've found lately.

* Thanks to the anonymous poster for setting me straight on the source for the "criminally insane" quotations.


I stumbled across your site while Googling various chunks of lyrics from "Frontier Psychiatrist". The entire first segment of the song, before the horse neigh, that talks about Dexter's truancy and expulsion, is not from "Dexter's Laboratory". It's from the movie "Polyester" (1981)--check out the Quotes section for this movie at

Oh wow. Thanks for the correction.

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