This was always going to win. When I caught a snippet of Melody’s Echo Chamber’s ‘You Won’t Be Missing That Part Of Me’ yesterday on the radio, I turned it up for the benefit of my dad, a teen in the 70s, who I thought would appreciate the warm synth vibes and hazy throwback sound of his youth. ‘Who’s this?’ he asked, as he does whenever a track of today vaguely interests him. ‘Tame Impala’, I answered, without the slightest hint of hesitation. Having outsmarted even my burgeoning reliance on Shazam, I reveled in my quickfire capacity to correctly identify a treble-heavy drum sound, wavy dreamscape synths and guitars that have been distorted so much they no longer sound like guitars with the band from Perth that, probably more than any other band over the last 5 years, is the one that I am most proud to claim as Australian. Tame Impala resident genius and frontman Kevin Parker might be riffing on sounds of a bygone era but over two albums, 2010’s ‘Innerspeaker‘ and this year’s ‘Lonerism‘, he has honed his craft so that it now more closely resembles a fine art. Where ‘Innerspeaker’ was a flawless listening experience, ‘Lonerism’ continued, somehow, to expand on the psychedelic brilliance that swirls around in Parker’s mind.
The only problem, as I sat smugly alongside my dad, overwhelmed by the sheer thickness of the sounds being pushed out of the speakers, was that I couldn’t readily identify which Tame Impala song it was and which album it came from. Categorical knowledge is difficult at the best of times but when albums reflect fluid, lucid soundscapes like Tame Impala’s do, with no discernible break in events, the identification process becomes even more difficult. When a pretty, dreamy female vocalist appears on the scene to add her two cents to the track and you therefore realise that that Tame Impala track is in fact not Tame Impala at all, well then, things start to get a bit complicated. As it turns out, I was only half wrong. Melody’s Echo Chamber is few enough degrees of Kevin Parker away to qualify as an ‘associated act’ on his band’s Wikipedia page and Melody Prochet, formerly a multi-instrumentalist for band My Bee’s Garden which toured Europe as support for Tame Impala, recorded her debut solo album at Kev’s house in Perth. Near enough is good enough.
If you ever wondered what Tame Impala might sound like with a woman on vocal duties, Melody’s Echo Chamber has to be about as close as you’ll ever get to trialing that hypothesis. Surely, Melody should be viewed as an artist in her own right. And there is no doubting that she brings a certain lightness to Parker’s sometimes oppressively complex (usually just mind-bogglingly excellent) production and that a certain French panache goes a long way towards underscoring the confident John Legend-esque heartbreaker manifesto that is ‘You Won’t Be Missing That Part of Me’. But strip away the vocal track and Melody’s suggestion that she’d been searching for her ‘dream sound’ for years and finally ‘found the right hands to sculpt it‘ begins to sound a bit suspicious, a bit more like she loved the Tame Impala groove and talked Parker around into letting her have a lend for an LP. That the production credit is thus transparent and Melody’s album sounds very similar to one of the best Australian albums released this year does nothing to dent the efficacy of this music. Tame Impala have been so successful precisely because Parker knows what he likes and is exceedingly good at it. As a result, this is familiar but also familiarly awesome.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – You Won’t Be Missing That Part Of Me [Video embedded for full psychedelic effect]