Frontier Psychiatrist

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"Frontier Psychiatrist"
A man stands in a yellow field and the band logo and the name of the single are in the sky.
Single by the Avalanches
from the album Since I Left You
Released21 August 2000
  • Robbie Chater
  • Darren Seltmann
The Avalanches singles chronology
"Frontier Psychiatrist"
"Since I Left You"

"Frontier Psychiatrist" is a song by Australian electronic music group the Avalanches. It was released on 21 August 2000 as the second single from the group's debut album Since I Left You. Produced by Avalanches members Robbie Chater and Darren Seltmann, under their production alias Bobbydazzler, 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,[1] and an orchestral background sourced from an Enoch Light version of the composition "My Way of Life" (1968).

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 their words, "happened from us just messing around."[2] 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.[3] The duo primarily worked with a Yamaha Promix 01 and Akai S2000 samplers.[4][5] Dexter Fabay, turntablist and keyboardist for the band, brainstormed the idea for "Frontier Psychiatrist", and his scratching is heard prominently on the track.[2][6]


"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.[4] The track also makes prominent use of scratching done by the band's turntablist Dexter Fabay.[2]

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.[7][8]

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",[7] as well as the John Waters movie Polyester.[9]

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 Harvey Mandel's 1968 cover of the spiritual "Wade in the Water", and comedy routines by Flip Wilson, sketches from Sesame Street, and Maurice Jarre's main theme from Lawrence of Arabia.[10]

The closing mariachi band plays "El Negro Zumbón", first performed by Flo Sandon's, who doubles Silvana Mangano in the 1951 movie Anna.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

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."[12] 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".[13] 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".[14] 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."[8]

"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.[15]

Music video[edit]

The "Frontier Psychiatrist" music video, directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire,[3][16] features characters re-enacting and musicians playing elements of the track, including vocal samples, violins, horns, serpents 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 No. 19 on their list of the "Top 50 Music Videos of the 2000s".[16]

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.[17] 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".[17] The single peaked at number 18 on the UK Singles Chart on the week ending 21 July 2001[18] and peaked at number 49 in Australia on the week ending 15 October 2000.[19] In the United States, "Frontier Psychiatrist" was released on 6 November 2001 as the group's debut single.[3]

Various promotional DVD singles containing the music video were also released.[17]

Credits and personnel[edit]


Credits adapted from CD single liner notes[20] and Since I Left You liner notes.[7]


Chart (2001) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[21] 49
UK Singles (OCC)[22] 18


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[23] Platinum 70,000

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Wayne And Shuster – In Person Comedy Performance". Discogs. 1960. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c LeMay, Matt (1 November 2001). "Interviews: The Avalanches". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Avalanches Start A Landslide". Billboard. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Pytlik, Mark (November 2002). "The Avalanches: The Avalanches Darren Seltmann & Robbie Chater". Sound on Sound. SOS Publications Group. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  5. ^ "Artist Profile – Avalanches". EMI. Archived from the original on 24 November 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  6. ^ McKinnon, Luke (6 May 2010). "DJ Dexter - interview". Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Since I Left You (Digipak inside sleeve). The Avalanches. Sire / Modular. 2001. 31177-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  8. ^ a b Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Cassell. p. 793. ISBN 978-1-84403-684-4.
  9. ^ David James Young (15 October 2020). "The Avalanches reflect on 20 years of 'Frontier Psychiatrist'". NME. BandLab Technologies. Archived from the original on 15 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Tracks Sampled in Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches on WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  11. ^ ""Silvana Mangano (el negro zumbón) from ANNA movie of 1951"". Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  12. ^ Savlov, Marc (2 November 2001). "Music: Review – The Avalanches". The Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corp. (Nick Barbaro). Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  13. ^ LeMay, Matt (31 December 1999). "Avalanches > Since I Left You". Pitchfork Media (Ryan Schreiber). Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  14. ^ Hsieh, Christine. "The Avalanches: Since I Left You". PopMatters. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  15. ^ Hornby, Nick (2002). Songbook. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-101340-4.
  16. ^ a b Plagenhoef, Scott (31 August 2009). "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Music Videos of the 2000s". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  17. ^ a b c "Discography". The Avalanches Official Website. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  18. ^ "The Avalanches - The Official Charts Company". Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  19. ^ "The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist (Song)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  20. ^ Frontier Psychiatrist (liner notes). The Avalanches. XL Recordings. 2001. XLT 134.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  21. ^ "The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Avalanches: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Feb Single Accreds 2024" (PDF). ARIA. March 2024. Retrieved 18 March 2024.

External links[edit]