I was watching Australian neo psychedelic prog rockers Tame Impala last night at Rock City and several thoughts were running through my head. First one woz: this band are great, I love ’em.
Anyway, I was thinking about the 60’s and the 70’s which led me on to thinking about the eightees and the ninetees. This band sort of makes you do that. We compartmentalize time, fashion and music into 10 year slices, and it works, the 70’s conjures up images of flares and the 80’s reminds me of big hair and padded shoulders and yuppies and Dire Straits.
It’s not true though is it?
My Mum and her mates wore funny sixties glasses, pencil skirts and had their hair up 60’s style well into the early seventies. It’s easy to talk about the roaring twenties and the crazy sixties and the yuppie 80’s because it rolls off the tongue nicely. We don’t call that period of 1900-1910 ‘the tens’ though do we, it’s referred to as Edwardian, and the period before that is Victorian, and before that it’s Georgian or Regency and then it gets broader; periods are medieval, dark and neolithic. That’s how we will end up folks!
If you look at the charts in 1977 you might be surprised to hear music that is punk, disco, Rene and Renato, Bowie’s German period, Tamla Motown and Leif Garrett. It’s not black and white. The 70’s weren’t really the seventies; the world is moving all the time for it to be just that simple.
What is interesting about music at the moment is how it is all so fragmented and compartmentalized into genres and sub genres because it’s almost the only way it can go to be different. Before Georgio Moroder, was there such a thing as Disco? It’s beginnings were in soul music and R&B and then it got mixed up with sixties psychedelia and modern production techniques. The O’Jays were high jacked by The Bee Gees and in turn abused by an Italian German night clubber. It’s no different now, new music only ever comes about by retreading the past. The Beatles were the masters of that and they are widely regarded as the most influential and original pop group there ever was and ever will be.
So where is the Disco and the Punk and the New Romantic sound movement now? Before Joy Division, was there anything that sounded like Joy Division? Was there a Kraftwerk before Kraftwerk? Is it now just Kraftwerky Alternative Rock? I’m not complaining by the way.
Andy McCluskey of OMD said that the synth-pop of 1977-83 was “the last great populist movement of modernism”. What he means is after synth-pop, (with some exeptions like Jungle) all major movements in music would become ‘sounds-like’ music.
So 2000 onwards was the ‘noughties’ for a while but it didn’t really work did it? The nineties were more naughty than the noughties. Is this decade just too new to be celebrated yet? We can talk about the 2020’s as the ‘twenties’ when we get into the 2030’s and feel safe in the knowledge that we are now in the new emerging ‘thirtees’.
Is music right now simply just an extension or a revival of what has gone before? When was the last time you heard something and said: “I’ve never heard anything like that before!” Is it even possible? I like to think it is.
Music has always been informed by what has happened before, but right now there is so much music that it’s all either, a bit synthy, a bit motowny, a bit Beatlesey or a bit post-punk or psychedelic or folky. Go and read a music magazine in WH Smiths today and after the review it will probably say; ‘if you like this, try this!’ Music has become so referrential that journalists just cut straight to the heart of it by putting this label at the end of their reviews and it used to drive me mad when I used to read reviews about my own band. After every six by seven review it always recommended listening to similar acts The Jesus and Mary Chain and always always My Bloody Valentine. Our drummer became so convinced by this trend in Journalism that he broke away to form a band that tried desperatly to sound exactly like My Bloody Valentine, believing this would bring him success.
Crap. I couldn’t hear The Jesus And Mary Chain in our music at all? I like the Mary Chain but to me thay always sounded like Phil Spector with timid vocals and screeching guitar feedback all the way through it. We didn’t sound like that did we? We never tried to sound like that! Or Radiohead? To my ears we didn’t sound like My Bloody Valentine either and I never owned a My Bloody Valentine record in my life because I saw them live once in the early ninetees and I just didn’t get it to be honest.
With the new six by seven album I’ve tried to make something that will end these comparisons and force journalists to recognize that nothing about this record is black and white (except the album artwork). Incidently, I can tell you now that the album is a double album and it is called ‘KlubMix33’ how confusing is that? I don’t know if I’ve managed to create a new form of music, of course not, but I may have created something that you can’t quite put your finger on and it possibly so different from what has gone before that it will cause a bit of thought and confusion. I hope so.
The main thing is that the music is good; which it is! If anything it was mean’t to sound like a Blitz Club playlist, which in itself would have been a massive variety of sound.
What is interesting about Tame Impala is that they take this referencing of music and stealing from the past to such an extreme that they are creating something unique and if you are young enough not to know what they are stealing from, it will sound brand new! So back in the 70’s the Sex Pistols sat next to Marvin Gaye and Neu! and Tame Impala are not afraid to give you all three bands in one song. I believe their music is firmly entrenched in prog though, specifically the post Peter Gabriel Genesis of Trick Of The tail, Wind and Wuthering and to a certain extent Duke and Abacab. I used to listen to those albums and last night reminded me of them so much it was almost, well, great!
IF YOU LIKE TAME IMPALA, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO NOT GO AND LISTEN TO THAT ERA OF GENESIS.
Watching Tame Impala reminded me of seeing the Happy Mondays in 1990 supporting James. It sounded like music I had heard before but it did make me think: “I’ve not heard anything like this before”.
So there you go, Tame Impala sound like a neo-proggy-Genesis-glam-Sabbath-Norman Greenbaum-Hawkwindy-Monkees-Floydy-Barratt-Binson Echo-esque type of Mott The Hoople band and therefore they sound like the future and they don’t sound like anything that has gone before. It’s all so confusing, just pass me the Amil Nitrate and a spliff and let me dance.
That’s it, apart from to say, cool, we got a drum solo last night too, which made my heart soar with delight! Sadly no guitar solo though. The only thing I didn’t like was that they played midi keyboards that triggered hammond, string machine and mellotron sounds from samples. I wonder what it would have sounded like if they had done it the Portishead way and used the real thing. Monster!
IS THERE ANYONE READING THIS WHO DISAGREES AND, OTHER THAN ELBOW, HAS HEARD MUSIC RECENTLY THAT SOUNDS LIKE NOTHING EVER BEFORE? I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW, PLEASE COMMENT.