"Frontier Psychiatrist" is a single by Australian electronic music group the Avalanches. It was produced by group members Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann, under their production alias Bobbydazzler, for the group's debut album Since I Left You. The track is built around many sampled elements, much like other tracks from its parent album, including prominent vocal samples of the sketch "Frontier Psychiatrist" by comedy duo Wayne and Shuster, and an orchestral background sourced from an Enoch Light version of the composition "My Way of Life" (1968).
|Single by The Avalanches|
|from the album Since I Left You|
|Released||21 August 2000|
|The Avalanches singles chronology|
It was released on 21 August 2000 as the second single from Since I Left You. Upon release, it peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart and number 49 in the group's native Australia, becoming their first single to enjoy commercial success. "Frontier Psychiatrist" was well received by music critics, who praised the Avalanches' use of samples.
According to group members, "Frontier Psychiatrist" was not planned beforehand by the group and in his words, "happened from us just messing around." Group members Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann were driving figures in the production of the album, spending months scouring Melbourne's "old record stores for old records" and spending hours sampling music from the records they found to create. The duo primarily worked with a Yamaha Promix 01 and Akai S2000 samplers. Dexter Fabay, turntablist and keyboardist for the band, brainstormed the idea for "Frontier Psychiatrist", and his scratching is heard prominently on the track.
"Frontier Psychiatrist" is built around several elements sampled from other music; Chater and Seltmann, who produced the track, sampled music from several vinyl records in the production and creation of Since I Left You. The track also makes prominent use of scratching done by the band's turntablist Dexter Fabay.
The prominent orchestral sample heard throughout the track is sourced from a recording by the Enoch Light Singers of the 1968 composition "My Way of Life", originally composed by Bert Kaempfert, Herbert Rehbein and Carl Sigman.
Only the aforementioned two samples are credited in the liner notes of Since I Left You; various other uncredited samples are used in the track, with sources ranging from golf instructionals, Christian records and "Reading for the Blind" tapes.
Critics acclaimed "Frontier Psychiatrist". Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle said it was "hands down the best example of the sheer giddy pleasure of turntablist art you've likely ever heard." Matt LeMay of Pitchfork described the track as "one of the funniest songs I've heard in ages", praising its vocal samples, including "brilliant scratching on a sample of a parrot". Christine Hsieh of PopMatters wrote: "Most impressively, though, is the way the Avalanches make things like whinnying horses and spoken word sound kooky and fresh instead of recycled and stale." She cited "Frontier Psychiatrist" as a "perfect example of this aesthetic". Matthew Horton, writing for the book 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, described it as "the album [Since I Left You] in microcosm—busy, daft, composed of countless unconnected parts, yet somehow entirely natural as a whole."
"Frontier Psychiatrist" and Soulwax's "No Fun / Push It" were the subjects of a short essay written by English writer Nick Hornby as a part of his book Songbook, a collection of short essays on tracks with particular emotional resonance to Hornby.
The "Frontier Psychiatrist" music video, directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire, features various characters re-enacting and playing various elements of the track, including vocal samples, violins, horns and drums.
The video was released to critical acclaim. The video was the runner-up in the "Best Music Video" category at the 2002 Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival. Pitchfork Media placed the video at #19 on their list of the "Top 50 Music Videos of the 2000s".
An alternative video was made, featuring actors acting out the 'dialogue' of the track in various scenes, including a psychiatrist's office and "Dexter's" bedroom. In addition, Rorschach ink-blots are animated to reflect various samples in the track.
"Frontier Psychiatrist" was released as the album's second single on 21 August 2000. Tracks included on "Frontier Psychiatrist" singles in Australia and the United Kingdom included remixes of "Frontier Psychiatrist" by Mario Caldato, Jr., "With My Baby", "Slow Walking" and "Yamaha Superstar", the latter two having been previously released on the Avalanches' 1997 single "Undersea Community". The single peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart on the week ending 21 July 2001 and peaked at number 49 in Australia on the week ending 15 October 2000. In the United States, "Frontier Psychiatrist" was released on 6 November 2001 as the group's debut single.
Credits and personnelEdit
- Bobbydazzler (aka Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann) – producer, mixing, arrangement
- Robbie Chater – arrangement, producer, songwriter, mixing, Yamaha Promix 01 and Akai S2000 samplers
- Tony Diblasi – songwriter
- Dexter Fabay – songwriter, turntables
- Bert Kaempfert – songwriter
- Mike Marsh (aka Mike's) – mastering
- Gordon McQuilten – songwriter
- Herbert Rehbein – songwriter
- Darren Seltmann – arrangement, producer, songwriter, mixing, Yamaha Promix 01 and Akai S2000 samplers
- Carl Sigman – songwriter
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- Frontier Psychiatrist (liner notes). The Avalanches. XL Recordings. 2001. XLT 134.CS1 maint: others (link)
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