The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala

The Flaming Lips


It is a strange thing when humans are very sad, the stories and music they want to hear is not hopeful or happy; they want to hear SAD stories and we suppose happy people wanna hear happy things maybe we only hear ourselves or we only LISTEN to ourselves Well, then, what had happened to us? Why would we make this music that is The Terror - this bleak, disturbing, hopeless record...?? I don’t really want to know the answer that I think is coming: that WE were hopelessWE were disturbed (but we didn’t have a longing to NOT be disturbed) and, I think, accepting that some things are hopeless...or letting hope in one area die so that hope can start to live in another?? Maybe this is the beginning of the answer.

Making music is such a haphazard activity, especially when done by a group. The individuals each have their own states of mind and each are, in a sense, listening to or hearing only themselves and so it can be a mishmash of moods or sounds or themes depending on the members’ assertiveness or their ability to conquer others (ha ha). It is a wonder that anything gets expressed (or maybe it is BECAUSE of these different agendas that music is, sometimes, its MOST expressive) It’s a motherfucker and a mystery.

So toward the end of the mad frenzy that was the "Heady Fwends" collaboration record, a second studio was being used to record in while the main studio was being used to mix in. And often the demands of the main studio would be so overwhelming that when we would retreat, starting sometimes at 1:00 in the morning, to the second studio, our music would be made in a kind of sleepwalker’s dimension...meaning, lead only by pure desire, pleasure and curiosity. All creations, if you are lucky, begin like this. They can quickly turn unpleasurable but that’s the nature of all production. So when "The Terror" was beginning to take shape, Steven and I were determined to navigate around this drudgery of production, trying our best to keep every moment, every sound, every word as it happened in this "sleep walker’s dimension". You see, we weren’t really trying to make a new record and we were being completely self indulgent.

We started to be affected by this music eventually affected so much that we could not tolerate any other music we had an inflated sense of self-importance and belief that this music this sound this mood is all that will ever matter to us from now on. Being obsessed is fun!!
But The Terror is NOT fun...


What we can’t control... if you are like me... we try to control. What we can change, we try to change... And so, maybe when we are immersed in chaos for too long, we long for stability or control. And maybe when we have control for too long, we have a desire for chaos. Or maybe we are just hungry worms... yeah... worms that are a thousand feet long... and we are eating our own tail... but we don’t know that, yeah, when we HAVE control, we fear LOSING control... but we think we WANT control... and then chaos comes in and shows us that, if we had control, our lives would be safe... or predict- able...or boring??? We create the chaos BECAUSE we have control... Fuck!! Like I said (or like I feared), we are hungry worms...


For a long time in our life, when we were young, we lived as though there were eyes watching us from above not GOD, but a super entity; not a super entity that cared about truth or justice, just a watcher. After that, we lived for a long time believing the universe has made us yeah!! but the rest is up to us. And then paranoia seemed useful again and for a short time during the making of "The Terror", we believed that eyes from beyond were once again watching over us. We longed to have no control of our lives... we tried to believe UFOs were hovering and watching us... we wanted to believe there was a conspiracy of fake truth and that we were being kept hostage by an unknown overpowering enemy and that our only escape was internal... we went inside ourselves. Where we know what is real... but once we went internal, we discovered we were empty and scared and we once again confided in the underlying truth that LOVE will save us yes, LOVE will save us. But The Terror?? The Terror is that LOVE is not the magic gravity, the sun of suns... We want, or wanted, to believe that without love we would disappear; that love, somehow, would save us that, yeah, if we have love, give love and know love, we are truly alive and if there is no love, there would be no life The Terror is, we know now, that even without love, life goes on... we just go on... there is no mercy killing.

Peace, Wayne

Much has changed since Tame Impala first emerged with an EP of dusty home recordings in 2008. By and large Kevin Parker’s approach to recording has not, though the sound coming out of his home studio has vastly expanded, as has the number of people anticipating the fruits of his labour. Tame Impala’s third album is titled Currents, and on it Parker addresses a blindingly colourful panorama of transition in the most audacious, adventurous fashion he’s yet to capture on record.

Dense with heady lyrical introspection, musically the most playful, bold and varied Tame Impala record to date, Currents is Parker putting down his weapons and embracing change as the only constant – sonically, thematically, and personally.

Musically, Currents sounds like the work of a player on top of his game and having a blast, Parker indulging his whims and unafraid to dive down the rabbit hole after an idea. Again operating as a one man studio band, Parker’s resultant record calls to mind contemporary hip hop production, Thriller, fried 70s funk, the irreverent playground Daft Punk presented on Discovery, swathes of future pop and emotional 80s balladry, all filtered through a thoroughly modern psychedelic third eye. A genre-bending soundscape fuelled equally by curiosity as it is consciousness, it’s exhilarating new territory for Tame Impala.

Lyrically the record finds Parker in a very different place in 2015 to where he was seven years ago. Transitions in life, relationships, perspectives, mindsets – Currents maps Parker’s evolution through these and finds him a brand new person. In parts of both 2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism Tame Impala sounded like a guy on the outer wanting in, now that he’s found himself on the inside Parker’s turned the spotlight in on himself. Stopping to reflect on the road behind, where he finds himself currently, and the road ahead, Currents spans a tumultuous time.

The first track from the record to be unveiled, Let It Happen, is a perfectly encapsulating preview of what lies ahead. Coming in just short of eight minutes, Let It Happen traverses a swag of sonic terrain in its duration. The drums and Parker’s vocal introduction lull the listener with a sense of familiarity, until it all sweeps up into a cosmos once populated only by French robots, with insistent melody, broken machine loops, synthetic orchestration, surfing vocoder and a shredding guitar outro.

Typically, initial Tame Impala recordings saw Parker’s vocal hidden beneath a layer of psychedelic fuzz, drenched in reverb, lyrics ambiguous. Currents finds his voice front and centre, so no bones are made about his intent.

Sketched out in planes, cars, hotels and homes since the completion of Lonerism in 2012, pieced together over the later part of 2014 and early 2015 at home in Fremantle, Western Australia, Currents was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Kevin Parker.

Tame Impala presents Currents, a soundtrack to life’s turbulent flow.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

The GOASTT is two people, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. It is, in itself, a chimera; a fabulous creature made with parts of two distinctly different creatures. It is also an acronym, as you might guess from its being capitalized like that. By virtue of being a friend to, and fan of, both the zygotes in this organism, I know what its letters stand for, but it's not mine to reveal. I expect they will do so at some future point.

Having driven my Ducati to Sean and Kemp's house through the darkened October streets of 4 am New York to type these words, I realize the absurdity of my task. If I wrote a novel and gave its protagonists stories of origin like the ones from which the two parts of GOASTT arose, people would say I was a fabulist in need of a hyperboectomy. Or an artless sophomore. But life is allowed a liberty with plotlines that novelists are not. Take these two:

Sean Lennon is a man of many hats. Like an alien who fell to earth and had to quickly assimilate humanity, he is a vast rolodex of accents, facts, farce, a myriad of motor skills (from archery to sketching) and can play any musical instrument (as if all undertakings are merely transposable keys to a song he knows by heart). Hyper-aware, there's almost nothing he isn't good at... This may be the result of his legendary genetic endowment, or simply the enormous pressure of his parentage; his father was perhaps the most accessible and experimental songwriter of his century. But, just as he reached the age of 5 when his father might have reared him with the milk and honey of nurture rather than the iron fist of nature, Sean's father was assassinated. As a consequence of this huge event and other shadows, Sean's life has been strangely both circumscribed and exaggerated. To the insouciant improvisational "Art is a Verb!" nature of his parents was added a welter of natural anxieties that would have made Woody Allen feel at home.

When I briefly encountered Sean's mother as an avant garde artist at Wesleyan University in January of 1966, I thought she had the most original mind I'd ever met. Later as she was dragged across the yawning screen of American hypercelebrity, I didn't know what to think, save that she, and all around her, seemed improbable.

And improbable was the first word that came to mind when I met Kemp Muhl almost exactly 40 years later.

Though her background was as unlikely as Sean's, hers was as private in its peculiarities as his was public. And her origins as the Georgian daughter of a military lieutenant colonel who had been nipped off to be a supermodel in New York, at about the tender age improbably beautiful girls are usually abducted - which is, chronologically at least, almost criminally young - did not in any way explain the fact that she has the other most original mind I had ever encountered.

After meeting Kemp, I followed her around- to the extent that I could move quickly enough- not, like most others, for the scenery, but because I found her casual triple-entendres, her "Kempisms," to be so improbably delicious in my mind...

She is such a free-running spring of cool creativity, that it didn't surprise me much when, shortly after she paired off with Sean and began to experience the musical ecosystem that is his unique mind, she revealed herself to have an utterly original sense of melody and lyrical realization as well. Her lines are like Borges short stories. I might have known.

As a symbol of her transformation for Sean, she now goes by Charlotte (her first name), much like a Native American who gets a new name upon having killed their first buffalo. Erstwhile Sean, (since his past chapters of turmoil and Shakespearean tragedy,) has shed the dark scales of his brooding artist skin for that of a newfound composer and puckish poet of an invincible fiber.

My great fortune lies in being an audience very close at hand to the gestation, birth, and early being of The GOASST. It is beautiful and strange and new. Let us watch it grow together.

- John Perry Barlow

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