In its original incarnation, “Avalanche” represents everything we’ve grown to expect from Leonard Cohen. It’s got the whole package – his trademark morose baritone, undulating acoustic guitar picking, and a healthy dose of strings in the background. However, in the hands of this international team of musicians, led by German electronic producer Boys Noize and British producer Erol Alkin, the Canadian folkie’s work takes on an entirely different form. They even give the track a new subtitle, “Terminal Velocity.” The pair of dance heavyweights enlist British rocker Jarvis Cocker, frontman of the Britpop act Pulp, for vocal duties, having him basically narrate Cohen’s lyrics a few lines at a time like a book on tape.
The track starts out with some atmospheric synth chords, with the percussion coming in after the second verse of the lyrics. From there it takes on a polyrhythmic feel, building over a syncopated bassline and steady quarter-note kick drum sound. Over the next few verses the beat builds and creates a dramatic backdrop for the ominous lyrics, until everything eventually erupts in the two-minute outro. Even though the lyrics are really the only aspect of the original that they preserve, Cocker’s menacing delivery and the dynamic rhythms capture the mood and idea of Cohen’s composition quite well (even if the producers are rejecting the “cover” label). You can stream the song below or download it on iTunes. (via Some Kind of Awesome)
Boys Noize and Erol Alkin ft. Jarvis Cocker – Avalanche (Terminal Velocity)
(Leonard Cohen cover)
Check out more Boys Noize on the BNR Website.