The Avalanches’ forthcoming release We Will Always Love You, it’s the story of the love affair between Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan: “science communicators” whose writings and TV programs brought the ever-deepening mysteries of astronomy and astrophysics to the mass audience. It’s a story that also sparked the imagination of singer-songwriter Leon Bridges, who features on the track “Interstellar Love,” which was released today, video, which was directed by Jonathan Zawada.
The Avalanches’ Robbie Chater says, “Leon is an incredible singer, with just the most beautiful voice. He’s from Texas but we both happened to be in L.A. at the same time, which was lucky as he was on my all-time wish list. When we were in the studio, I told him the story about Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan and how her love-struck brain waves were sent out into space on the Voyager’s Golden Record. And this song came out of that.”
Chater was profoundly moved by the fact that Sagan and Druyan’s romance was captured and carried into space via the Voyager Interstellar Message Project. Druyan served as Creative Director in charge of curating the Golden Record: earthling music and assorted terrestrial sounds gathered for the contemplation of any alien civilizations that might be out there and be advanced enough to construct a playback system.
Originally, Druyan was set to be a presence on We Will Always Love You: a studio was booked to record her telling her own story. That never transpired, but Druyan “gave us permission to use her photo on the album cover,” says Chater. “We photographed it off a static-y television set and ran it through a spectrograph to make the cover image. So that was a beautiful way that Ann could still be part of the record. We turned her into sound and back again.”
Sampling remains at the core of The Avalanches sound, but alongside all of the sample ghosts, We Will Always Love You features an array of living guests who contribute vocals and lyrics: Blood Orange, Rivers Cuomo, Pink Siifu, Jamie xx, CLYPSO, Denzel Curry, Tricky, Neneh Cherry, Sampa the Great, Sananda Maitreya and Vashti Bunyan and many more. The Avalanches’ music has always dripped with melody, but because of this expanded role for guest singers and writers, We Will Always Love You is their most song-oriented album yet.