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Frontier Psychiatrist

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Frontier Psychiatrist

"Frontier Psychiatrist"
Single by The Avalanches
from the album Since I Left You
Released 21 August 2000
Format CD single, 12"
Recorded 1999
Genre Plunderphonics
Length 4:47
Label Modular, XL, Elektra
Writer(s) Robbie Chater, Tony Diblasi, Dexter Fabay, Bert Kaempfert, Gordon McQuilten, Herbert Rehbein, Darren Seltmann, Carl Sigman
Producer(s) Robbie Chater, Darren Seltmann (Bobbydazzler)
The Avalanches singles chronology
"Frontier Psychiatrist"
"Since I Left You"

"Frontier Psychiatrist" is a song by Australian electronic dance music group The Avalanches. The song 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 song is built around many sampled elements, much like other tracks from its parent album, including prominent vocal samples of comedy duo Wayne and Shuster and an orchestral background sourced from an Enoch Light version of the composition "My Way of Life" (1968).

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' utilization of samples in making the song.


  • Background 1
  • Composition 2
  • Critical reception 3
  • Music video 4
  • Release 5
  • Credits and personnel 6
  • Charts 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


According to group members, "Frontier Psychiatrist" was not planned beforehand by the group and in his words, "just happened from us just fucking around."[1] Group members Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann were driving figures in the production of the album's songs, spending months scouring Melbourne's "old record stores for old records" and spending hours sampling music from the records they found to create the songs on the album.[2] The duo primarily worked with a Yamaha Promix 01 and Akai S2000 samplers.[3][4] Dexter Fabay, turntablist and keyboardist for the band, brainstormed the idea for "Frontier Psychiatrist", and his scratching abilities are heard prominently on the song.[1][5]


"Frontier Psychiatrist" is built around several elements sampled from other music; Chater and Seltmann, who produced the song, sampled music from several vinyl records in the production and creation of the songs from Since I Left You.[3] The song also makes prominent use of scratching done by the band's turntablist Dexter Fabay.[1]

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.[6][7]

The track also contains several vocal samples of Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Shuster, the most prominent of these samples taken from the duo's comedy routine "Frontier Psychiatrist".[6]

Only the aforementioned two samples are credited in the liner notes of Since I Left You; various other uncredited samples are used in the song, with sources ranging from golf instructionals, Christianity records and "Reading for the Blind" tapes.[8]

The spoken sample at the beginning ("Is Dexter ill?") comes from the John Waters film Polyester, followed by Maurice Jarre's overture from Lawrence of Arabia.[9]

The closing mariachi band played "El negro Zumbon" first performed by Silvana Mangano in the movie Anna.[10]

Critical reception

"Frontier Psychiatrist" was acclaimed by music critics. Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle gave the song a positive review, declaring it "hands down the best example of the sheer giddy pleasure of turntablist art you've likely ever heard."[11] Matt LeMay of Pitchfork Media described the song as "one of the funniest songs I've heard in ages", complimenting its use of vocal samples, including "brilliant scratching on a sample of a parrot." [12] 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".[13] Matthew Horton, writing for the book 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, described the song as "the album [Since I Left You] in microcosm—busy, daft, composed of countless unconnected parts, yet somehow entirely natural as a whole."[7]

"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 similar short essays on songs with particular emotional resonance to Hornby.[14]

Music video

The song's music video, directed by Kuntz and Maguire,[1][2] 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".[1]

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.[15] 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".[15] The single peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart on the week ending 21 July 2001[16] and peaked at number 49 in Australia on the week ending 15 October 2000.[17] In the United States, "Frontier Psychiatrist" was released on 6 November 2001 as the group's debut single.[2]

Various promotional DVD singles containing the song's music video were also released.[15]

Credits and personnel

  • 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

Credits adapted from CD single liner notes[18] and Since I Left You liner notes.[6]


Chart (2001) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[17] 49
UK Singles Chart[16] 18


  1. ^ a b c d e LeMay, Matt (1 November 2001). "Interviews: The Avalanches".  
  2. ^ a b c "Avalanches Start A Landslide".  
  3. ^ a b Pytlik, Mark (November 2002). "The Avalanches: The Avalanches Darren Seltmann & Robbie Chater".  
  4. ^ "Artist Profile – Avalanches". EMI. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  5. ^ McKinnon, Luke (6 May 2010). "DJ Dexter - interview". Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Since I Left You (Digipak inside sleeve).  
  7. ^ a b Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Cassell. p. 793.  
  8. ^ "Frontier Psychiatrist - The Avalanches". 9 September 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Frontier Psychiatrist (The Samples)". 17 November 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  10. ^ ""Silvana Mangano (el negro zumbon) from ANNA movie of 1951"". Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ Savlov, Marc (2 November 2001). "Music: Review – The Avalanches".  
  12. ^ LeMay, Matt (31 December 1999). "Since I Left You"Avalanches > . Pitchfork Media (Ryan Schreiber). Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Hsieh, Christine. "The Avalanches: Since I Left You".  
  14. ^  
  15. ^ a b c "Discography". The Avalanches Official Website. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "The Avalanches - The Official Charts Company". Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Song)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Frontier Psychiatrist (liner notes).  

External links

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