Tame Impala

“Imagine a wizard with robes and a staff, like, eye to eye with an impala and it was frozen, tamed just for one moment, and then it was off again, wild and free.” Such is the experience when listening to the exploding guitar solo in Desire Be Desire Go, or the hypnotising groove in Skeleton Tiger by one of Australia’s foremost ‘psychedelic bands,’ Tame Impala.
Tame Impala is kind of just the recording project that I’m the boss of. I’ve had it for many years, with different friends and musicians helping me out,” stated the ‘band’s’ main-man, Kevin Parker. As to how the project is structured, he best surmised it as being composed of “…two halves: one half is the recording side which is very calculated and pieced together, and the other side is the live side, where we take what’s been recorded and turn them into live songs,” and that’s where Parker calls his friends from other projects to play alongside him.
As a live band, Tame Impala transform the songs through improvisation and the addition of their own things instead of trying to replicate the studio sound. Parker initially hated the way in which a live setting altered the songs, stating “I was just basically wigged out about that transition.” Eventually, however, he came to terms with it and began to enjoy the live setting, “…embracing the qualities of both.”
2008 saw the release of Tame Impala‘s EP, believed by many to be called Antares Mira Sun due to the cover depicting the Orion nebula. As for the songs, the EP saw Tame Impala‘s first intentional release. In an interview, Parker stated that “…the EP was not in anyway recorded for an EP. The songs that were on the EP weren’t even recorded at the same time, they were done over a bunch of years.”
In 2010, Tame Impala released their first album, Innerspeaker, which was recorded in a house “…a few hours south of Perth in the middle of nowhere on the coast.” Despite the limitations in sound and ideas, the songs put you under a pleasantly languid vibe. Parker, however, beleivs the songs to be “… delirious, alone music.” Also inherent within the album is a kind of restraint, wherein most of the album only consists of pop songs. “I was definitely really possessive of it being the first album, I was so focused on it matching what was in my head, I didn’t want to experiment too much away from that vision,” explained Parker in regards to his fear of creative deviation.
After Innerspeaker‘s release, Parker found himself with more time on his hands to record for the second album, Lonerism. Demos were made in various locations in the world and Parker moved into an apartment France in 2011, recording most of the album there in “a reclusive bunker.” Parker also co-wrote with another musician, Jay Watson of Pond, on the song Apocalypse Dreams, an experience which Parker said “…was… whoa… a huge thing for me.” Suddenly, every song is bursting with color in their lavish layers of busy instrumentation, showing Parker creating an album that is “…quite different, it’s a bit more decadent. It’s a bit more sonically decadent… There’s less holding-back of temptations of various kinds. I love fucked-up sounds, and I love pop melodies, and its kind of a combination of the two.” However, Parker dismisses the lyrical aspect of Lonerism as creating “…quite a childish album, almost like a persona who turns into the one from Innerspeaker.”
As for the future of the ‘band’, “It’ll be less of a solo project in the future, cause Jay and I are writing songs together and cooperating.” A third album is currently anticipated for release between the end of this year and early 2016, revealed to be encompass a completely different field of music altogether.
Whatever direction Tame Impala paves for itself into the future, you can be sure that Parker and his future band members will continue to create vibrant, multi-dimensional music that pushes boundaries and exceeds expectations, for each release under Tame Impala has only become better and better.

The Dissociatives

Some more awesome Aussies I discovered this year are The Dissociatives, a creative duo that consisted of Daniel Johns and Paul Mac. Their self-titled album boasts an unusual and unique collection of songs created by the usual amalgamation of rock and electronics, despite the two deriving from completely different musical backgrounds.
Daniel Johns is a guitarist and singer from the metal band, Silverchair. The band reached prominence  in 1994 through the release of their single Tomorrow, after winning a competition that rewarded them a recording session for one song. Their subsequent albums enjoyed the same, if not greater, success as the single.
Paul Mac is an electronics music artist, DJ and producer who worked with a variety of Australian acts to much success. He released his first album in 2001, titled 3000 Feet High. After listening to this, the  Dissociatives sound as if they have more of Mac’s style than Johns’s, although the latter does give the songs his characteristic voice.

The two met in 1997 when Mac remixed Silverchair‘s song Freak. Mac then began to play instruments in some Silverchair songs and appeared on stage with them on several occasions, leading to a friendship between the two. They decided to record some songs with each other, which were then released in 2000 on an EP called I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rock. Then in 2003, the duo decided to record an album together, and released The Dissociatives in 2004.

A quiet beat opens the ambient We’re Much Preferred Customers. Initial listens give the impression that little happens within the song, however, if you listen closer, you find that numerous sound effects and melodies in the background give the song a full and busy undertone. Even though I’ve never listened to this song until this year, it sounds so nostalgic as it captures the sounds typical of early 2000s music.

Somewhere Down the Barrel immediately starts with a louder electronic beat and in media res. The lyrics are about the existence of purpose beyond a consumerist lifestyle, and contains one of the coolest lines: A terrorist’s a prisoner, and a tourist a thief when paintings seem like bargains when they’re nothing but wallpaper.
Horror with Eyeballs is a slower, waltz-like song with a circus-freak undertone. Towards the end of the song, the melodies unexpectedly deviate in and out of these ‘insanity’ sections before giving into it completely.
Lifting the Veil From the Braille and Paris Circa 2007 Slash 08 are both instrumentals that use the same techniques, such as repeated melodies and layered background percussion and electronic effects. Despite this, both songs don’t sound like rehashes of each other, and the lack of lyrics do not create the impression that a layer is missing. Towards the end of Lifting… Braille, there’s an ascending flute melody that sounds as if it were taken from some familiar 70s pop-rock hit, something Abba would use…
Forever and a Day takes us into the torture of waiting for a loved one for what seems like forever. Small melodies from an orchestra of sounds and a filling percussive background maintain the song’s rich atmosphere through to its finish with vocal harmonising by a children’s choir.
Thinking in Reverse opens on an insistent beat followed by an agitated piano melody. The lyrics bring the song into a darker mood until the very danceable chorus. The ‘rising’ backward guitar gives the impression that the sound is moving towards you somewhere deep in the song, before it is abruptly stopped by the return to the dark mood. In the final verse, the lyrics overlap each other and give a completely different meaning to the song.
The best song on this album, in my opinion, is Young Man, Old Man (You Ain’t Better Than the Rest).
Despite the initial simplicity of this song, further listening allows you find all the melodies and rhythms in the background that create its rich and resounding atmosphere. The guitarist alludes to Guns ‘n’ Roses song November Rain in his solo outside a church in the middle of typically sun-baked Australian country.
A stopped-record intro opens Angry Megaphone Man and progresses through a series of unexpected melodic changes, one of which gives the impression of slowed time through little instrumentation and slowed-down effects in the background.
Sleep Well Tonight closes the album in the same way it started, this time in the manner of a lullaby. There is little instrumentation, made up for by the constantly moving vocal melody and lyrics.
Although its just one album, The Dissociatives prove that rock and electronic music do go well together, and that such an opposing combination creates original and unusual songs.