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The Avalanches Release Their Highly Anticipated 3rd Album

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

When Australian group The Avalanches released their first album "Since I Left You" in 2000, it was hailed as a masterpiece of sample-heavy music. Fans eagerly anticipated a follow-up and kept anticipating for 16 years before the duo released "Wildflower," an audio feast of samples and guest vocals. Now, just four years later, The Avalanches - that's Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi - have a third album out. It's called "We Will Always Love You."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Since I saw you last, there's been many a sunset.

BLOOD ORANGE: (Singing) You don't need to break it.

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) And every day we're apart seems like a week.

BLOOD ORANGE: (Singing) Gold is all you see.

TONY DI BLASI: During "Wildflower," we were quite lost with the message we were trying to send and what the album was all about, so we were thinking, let's try and find a meaning for what this is about before we start. And we kind of came up with this idea of light. And it was our own personal journey of, you know, letting go of "Wildflower" and also just, you know, our own personal inner journeys of, like, letting go of the baggage in our minds.

ROBBIE CHATER: If we're very, very vast internally, that's mirrored by the cosmos. And so thinking about energy and life after death, really, and then drawing links between that and our history as musicians we sample.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) We'll always love you, but that's not my fault.

CHATER: The singer's long past, but their voice lives on in our music. And then we came across the beautiful story of Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan and how they met and fell in love while compiling the "Voyager Golden Record."

DI BLASI: Yeah, the whole idea of the golden record was that it would travel into space and be there for a billion years. So it was like, you know, a mixtape from Earth. And so Ann was due to get her REM and all different other parts of her body kind of recorded and put onto this record. And two days before this was all to occur, like, Carl proposed to her. So she was, like, completely in love. She was hoping that if some extraterrestrial life form could find this record, they would be able to understand love.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE AVALANCHES SONG, "INTERSTELLAR LOVE")

CHATER: This album was full with sounds of static, samples from radios, samples from - I mean, YouTube is full of mediums who use these ghost box recorders. And they claim to be speaking to the dead. And they'll have all these static transmissions of, like, the voices of people who are long past. And we would sample those kind of recordings to make drum sounds. Cosmic background radiation that's out there in the universe is all around us. And we're kind of haunted by the sound of the big bang still to this day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUSIC IS THE LIGHT")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Music is the light, and I have what it is to shine...

CHATER: Pretty much with all of the collaborators on the record, they're very much part of the DNA of our history as musicians anyway, you know? Someone like Mick Jones obviously is very famous for his work with The Clash. But for us, his work with Big Audio Dynamite is part of our musical DNA. And Big Audio Dynamite had some big hits on the radio in Australia, and that was some of the first sample-based music I'd ever heard.

DI BLASI: And we're very picky in terms of, like, timber and tone - the tone of someone's voice, the sound of someone's voice. It's like choosing a sample.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE GO ON")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Walking up the hill, singing back a song moments before the world breaks into DayGlo. Dancehall’s rocking for the people...

DI BLASI: Robbie has a very particular way of, like, producing things and putting a lot of little noises into things that you won't hear but you will feel. That's kind of The Avalanches' sound on a production scale. It's just like all these little things that are happening - music candy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE GO ON")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) We go on hurting each other. We go on hurting each other. We go on...

DI BLASI: We did have the intention of let's just do something quickly. We'll do 10 songs. We don't have to join them all. They can just be individual.

CHATER: (Laughter).

DI BLASI: And then it's like by the end, you know, there's 25 songs. Everything's joined.

CHATER: (Laughter) Yeah.

DI BLASI: But it didn't take 16 years, so it's a great result.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUNNING RED LIGHTS")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Running, running red lights, red lights, red lights. I been running red lights to get to you...

CHATER: Releasing it this year is something that we didn't have to do. We could have held the record back. I mean, it was due to come out in - was it May time?

DI BLASI: May, yeah.

CHATER: Yeah.

DI BLASI: Until COVID. Obviously, COVID hit. It would've been, you know, great to have it out earlier and playing live and, you know, in a fun world or whatever. But, you know, hopefully we work in that way of just, you know, giving people a bit of positivity.

CHATER: And why hold it back for next year when who knows what's even going to happen next year? Like, yeah, I mean, some of these songs are quite clubby or would be great at a festival, but music works on different levels. You know, music can be a very intensely personal experience. Music can connect you with people when you're alone, or it can work on a big festival filled with 10,000 people.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUNNING RED LIGHTS")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) California life is all right with me. California life is all right with me. We are, we are, we are, we are, we are all we have. California life is all right with me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi of The Avalanches. Their third album, "We Will Always Love You," is out now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.