The classic rock album that inspired the sound of Tame Impala

Tame Impala defined the sound of the 2010s. Created by music enthusiast Kevin Parker, the Australian psychedelic project rose to prominence in the summer of 2011 after appearing at the Coachella festival a year after the release of Interlocutor. After successfully integrating into the collective psyche of festival-goers through years of relentless touring, their appearance at Coachella has made them a mainstay, as has their upcoming album, lonerism, which saw Parker move beyond revivalism and celebrate the technological exploration that defined the heyday of the psychedelic genre in the late ’60s and early’ 70s.

While Tame Impala’s sound seems to be the product of someone who has listened to psych-rock since birth, Parker was surprisingly late in the game, only discovering the genre as a teenager. As he recalled in an interview in 2013: “After my grunge phase, I started to open up my horizons and listen to more electronic stuff. I entered Radiohead, in particular Amnesiac – my brother gave me this album. It wasn’t until I was 20 and met all the guys I’m friends with now – the rest of the guys in the band – that I started listening to psych-rock. I listened to The Doors, Color Haze, Black Sabbath and stuff like that, but the album that really got me into it was Disraeli gears. I loved that rumbling, scrambled sound. I bought it one day in a record store and it blew me away.

Unlike so many psychedelic revivalists that littered local music scenes around the world in the 2010s, Kevin Parker wasn’t necessarily interested in just recreating the sound of albums like Cream’s. Disraeli gears. Instead, Tame Impala’s sound was a byproduct of his brain’s infatuation with studio technology and the endless possibilities within it. Indeed, while Parker previously cited the influence of The Doors, Todd Rundgren and Cream, it was a much more recent group that formed the foundation for the dance-infused psyche style that would allow Tame Impala to transcend the genre and the likes and bring hordes of dedicated fans.

“I was starting university when [Air’s] Talkie Walkie came out and it became a moving soundtrack of what was going on in my life, ”he began. “Back then, I was studying engineering and was floundering around miserably, because I really didn’t care – as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t concentrate. I spent entire lectures thinking about the next song I was going to do. This album was such an enrichment ”.

Adding: “I was really inspired by the way they layered melodies and sounds to create a kind of electronic orchestra. It opened my eyes to new possibilities in the studio because there were only two guys but they made a world of sounds. It made me realize that it doesn’t have to sound like a band, it can sound like something totally different.

Maybe Tame Impala’s sound turned out to be so popular because it encompassed something like 30 years of music making. While songs like ‘Elephant’ from the 2012’s lonerism certainly contain the “fuzzy” atmosphere that made Parker fall in love with Disraeli gears, this track – and in fact the rest of lonerism and his successor, Currents – is conceived as an acid house track, where textures swell and curl, pulling the listener into a fascinating mix of distortion, tempo-locked phase and pulsating bass.

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