Welcome to the court of 2012’s psychedelic king and queen. As the leader of Tame Impala and sometime contributor to Pond, The Dee Dee Dums, Mink Mussel Creek and other Perth-based bands, Kevin Parker has installed himself as this generation’s retro-psych regent by playing a brand of ’60s psychedelia most had given up for dead.
Now he’d like you to meet his girlfriend, Melody Prochet – a classically trained musician from the French countryside who moved to Paris, discovered rock music and, as the cosmos dictated, got talking to Parker backstage at a Tame show. Soon enough she was in Australia, unfurling her diabetically sweet melodies in Parker’s personal studio.
But while Tame’s bejewelled new record ‘Lonerism’ had a specific date-line in mind – summer 1966, The Beatles making the transition from ‘Rain’ to ‘Revolver’ – Melody’s Echo Chamber is less bound by big names. It’s in thrall to the past, sure, but to lesser-known music like Pentangle and Comus; to stuff that occupies the forever-French hinterland between musique concrète, Serge Gainsbourg’s thing, jazz and Muzak. The stuff that Stereolab brought back into the Anglo-Saxon world in the ’90s; ideas that Broadcast ran with.
When Melody’s light-saturated first single ‘Crystallized’ rolled into our Twitter feeds back in March, it was easy to dismiss the shimmery-shiny song as standard blog-bait. But ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’ manages to create something just as dark as it is light.
‘Snowcapped Andes Crash’ not only has a title that could’ve fallen off the back of Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’, it also pushes Melody’s stilted, reverb-caked guitar arpeggios towards ‘Knives Out’ territory, before breaking back towards the safety of the Cocteau Twins. ‘Quand Vas Tu Renter?’ takes the bizarre keyboard tone childhood Casio users will recognise as ‘dog bark’ and pushes it into an uneasy clinch with spy jazz. Then, if things start to drift off into the lazy, stoner-y drone that Tame Impala fans will know only too well, she isn’t afraid to try something weird to snap out of it. ‘IsThatWhatYouSaid’, for instance: a backwards-tracking squall that’s like flying an aeroplane through a flock of guitars.
What it all adds up to isn’t big-push psych loonycakes like The Flaming Lips, but something more subtly disorienting. The
‘echo chamber’ name comes from Melody sitting in her bedroom, making a sort of den, and blurting out her tunes to no-one but a hard drive. It’s that sense of intruding on a private moment that Parker and Prochet have managed to retain. After all, here are two people who already see the best in each other, and with ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’ they’ve tried to make everyone else see it too. It shows.
- Director: Kevin Parker
- Record label: Domino
- Release date: 05 Nov, 2012