Tame Impala’s latest album, 'Lonerism,' is a collection of songs blowing in on dreamy electronic breezes, thick with otherworldly orchestration. Making a record like this requires a musical palette of many colors, and a lot of gear. The band’s lead singer and main songwriter, the multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, painted his groovy psychedelic vistas in Paris, recording most of the album there on his own, and indulging fully his love of vintage instruments and equipment.
With total commitment to the music, something else had to give. “I had my whole studio freighted over from Australia,” he says. “So there I was, in this tiny apartment, unable to move for wires, instruments, and production equipment. I was basically sleeping on the amps.”
Parker, a self-confessed guitar geek and effects wonk, will also tell you that his much-traveled gadgets are tools of discovery in a never-ending quest for new sonic experiences. “As long as there are undiscovered sounds, I’ll never stop searching and experimenting.” Here, the chief Impala identifies the three most important pieces of equipment used in the making of the album.
Tame Impala's 'Lonerism' (Modular Recordings) is out now.
DIAMOND VIBRATO GUITAR PEDAL
This is used with pretty much all of the guitars on 'Lonerism.' It wobbles the pitch and makes the guitar sound like a rickety little boat on the ocean. It’s a woozy sound that you’ll hear throughout the album, a kind of seasick vibe which gives the impression that the whole thing is about to fall over. It also made the bass sound like a hungry stomach, which was weird but cool.
SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS PRO-ONE SYNTHESIZER
An analog synth from the 1980s. I fell in love with it from the moment I first touched a key. It sounds like it’s shooting laser beams. A lot of the lead lines on the album are played on this. I never buy instruments specifically for a song, but this just seemed to fit perfectly on all of them. I overpaid for it, though, after a bidding war on eBay: I couldn’t let it go.
DBX 165A COMPRESSOR
Another gem from the 1980s. This compressor makes the drums sound like bombs going off. It’s like Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham playing a hip-hop beat. Just a monstrous sound, like you’ve stuck a microphone up the backside of a drum kit. The 165A is a sonic doomsday weapon. I don’t use it to control the volume; I set it tightly and aggressively, and that way, the drums become really urgent and immediate.
Check out the February 2013 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands January 15) for more articles. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.