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Melody's Echo Chamber
Melody's Echo Chamber John Freeman , November 5th, 2012 08:58

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There was a time when being a multi-instrumentalist was a special skill set, honed only by the finest of musicians. That a 17-year-old Prince produced, arranged, composed and played all 27 instruments on his 1978 debut album used to be considered quite a feat. Nowadays, he'd be considered within the norm (“just the 27 instruments, you say?”), as each new month spews another slew of offerings from multi-instrumentalists with capacious bedrooms and well-thumbed copies of 'GarageBand For Dummies'.

  Today's musical multi-tasker is Melody Prochet. She is based in Paris, which at least is not Oxford, Dalston or Williamsburg, and has released a debut album for her project (a term which still induces a Pavlovian bout of gastro-oesophageal reflux), Melody's Echo Chamber. That Prochet is peddling her brand of Kraut-rock-dream-pop-electronica isn't exactly a Unique Selling Point in 2012. However - thankfully, joyously - Melody's Echo Chamber is an utterly marvellous listen. Prochet has blended a myriad of sounds, without ever getting engulfed by navel-gazing or disappearing up her own derriere. Melody's Echo Chamber is replete with memorable tunes - fully-realised songs - which anchor Prochet's inquisitive ear and desire to experiment.

And she certainly knows how to make a first impression. Quite simply, lead single 'I Follow You' is a magnificent way to open any album. Over velveteen guitars, a delicious hook is lifted by Prochet's luminous vocals before a rush and a push of feedback pushes the song into a delirious finale (the guitar solo could have been played by J Mascis). It's a track that could have been released by 4AD in 1989. It sounds like Lush. Actually, it doesn't sound like Lush, it sounds like my rose-tinted memory of what Lush could have sounded like if they'd possessed a dab of Prochet's vision.

That's not saying 'I Will Follow' results in Melody's Echo Chamber showing its hand too early - the record is a consistent beast with Prochet's quality control permanently set to 'high'. 'Crystallized' is a beaut - a chiming guitar and a far-off vocal evoking the memory of AC Marias before the track wanders off into a splurge of sticky reverb. Even better is 'Endless Shore', with its almost Eastern phrasing, pulsing synth line and dappled riffs.

Intriguingly, Melody's Echo Chamber was created in two distinct phases, 8,500 miles apart. Prochet recorded the music in the Western Australian city of Perth with Tame Impala's Kevin Parker. The pair had met when Prochet saw Tame Impala play in Paris, and chased Parker to the aftershow party at her friend's bar. Prochet, a student of classical music and trained viola player, had previously felt “restrained” by her formal music education and Parker's unconventional approach provided the perfect playground for experimentation and making music by instinct and gut-feel. The results are genuinely thrilling - Melody's Echo Chamber is beautifully balanced, combining Prochet's deft arrangements to a hypnotic smorgasbord of sonic textures. Motorik beats, space-pop and surges of electronica are used with the touch of a master craftsperson.  

The second phase of Melody's Echo Chamber was recorded in Cavalière on France's Côte D'Azur, where Prochet assumed squatter's rights to her grandparent's beach house. There, amid an oasis of tranquillity, she nailed down the album's vocals. Try googling Cavalière. It looks astonishing. No wonder Melody's dreamy vocals soar with intrigue. Magical things happen in magical places.

  Lyrically, much of Melody's Echo Chamber is largely camped in the vocal-low-in-the-mix to fully explore Prochet's soul-searching. The album is the first time she has sung in English and gorgeous, woozy pop of 'You Won't Be Missing That Part Of Me' is perhaps the most transparent example of Prochet's subtle take on heartache. Two songs are sung in her native tongue - 'Bisou Magique' ('Magic Kiss') is a smoky Serge Gainsbourg slice of seduction, while the ghostly 'Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?' ('When Will You Return?') is underpinned by a gentle Hammond organ refrain.  

  Perhaps the album's most extraordinary track is 'Snowcapped Andes Crash, which starts as a floating wisp of plinking electronica before descending halfway through its five minutes into a carnage of juddering guitar effects and pulsing loops - as if the song had smashed itself into a musical mountainside. It's both progressive and mildly shocking and indicative of Prochet's skill at marrying invention to an intriguing song.

  Melody's Echo Chamber is a glorious album. Its success lies in the balance between Prochet's ability to break out of the (supposed) shackles of her structured classical composition education, while still delivering a suite of songs that are coherent, eminently listenable and blend lightness with dark foreboding. It doesn't matter how many instruments a musician can play, or how many genres they are intent of merging, a record still needs some tunes. Melody Prochet has attained a perfect equilibrium. 

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Nov 5, 2012 9:58pm

Why slag off Lush? "I Follow You" is nowhere near as good as anything Lush accomplished... and i think i would have enjoyed it had you not tried to knock one down to build this up... If you said Scheer though I would have been on board.. shame on you, Freeman..

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Nov 6, 2012 1:21am

I think Kevin Parker is the main reason this album is so good...
Yet, you barely brought him up in this review, glorifying Prochet.

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Nov 6, 2012 9:14pm

Like someone mentioned, this would not have happened without the magic of Kevin Parker
Never heard of this girl as well, before I saw he procuced the album
Wich is good for her I suppose
Yet I can´t help a little to feel, its a bit like riding the coattails of someone elses uprising success
But only time will tell...Im interested to see how she comes around with the second album

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Nov 8, 2012 3:44pm

I've been a Lush fan for 20 years and I agree they sound similar. But Melody has a larger pallet of sounds, and yes, thanks to Kevin Parker who produced it. Melody sings and writes lyrics and the skeleton, Kevin and other other members of Tame Impala brings in the production, engineering, and playing drums, bass, synth, some guitars. The two are romantically involved, not that it matters, but "riding on coattails" seems a bit harsh like one deserves more credit than the other. I heard about this project through my fandom of shoegaze/dream pop, not via Kevin Parker and Tame Impala which are new to me. Anyway, I think the two work well together and I have turned on everyone I know who likes 90's shoegaze/dream pop on to it and they all love it.

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Nov 8, 2012 9:03pm

Woah, Tame Impala new to you? You been living under a rock dude?
While I agree, I never heard of this girl myself. Previous comment about riding coattails is a bith harsh.
But I can certainly see why ppl might think so
Btw, I thought it said she is a multi instrumentalist yet she have Kevin Parker and the rest? of Tame Impala play them on the album.
Seems a bit weak to me, when you call yourself multi instrumentalist to my ears
Decent album tough, but maybe for next time she should do more herself? Just a thought

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Nov 9, 2012 7:15pm

In reply to Patrick:

i don't understand all this negativity and questioning about her level of contribution to this great album. i don't think this would happen if it was made by a man. its really strange, she seems to be getting criticized for having kevin parker produce. yes, he did a great job, yes he had a big hand in it, so do producers in countless other albums, but i don't see that being an issue anywhere else. and questioning how many instruments she plays? really? she is described as a multi-instumentalist here, not by herself. does any of us actually know how many instruments she plays, whether its in her bedroom or on this album? does it matter? do we question it on any other albums by other artists? it seems rather baffling that she is being accused of riding on anyone's success or not having much to do with the quality of her own album. the only credits i have seen credit kevin parker for production and instrumentation and melody prochet is credited with composition and instrumentation. why the begrudgery? what a cynical and suspicious lot you are.

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Nov 9, 2012 7:53pm

In reply to maximus:

i totally second all that, but then i'm not that fussed on tame impala, if anything I'd have liked him to apply his schtick a bit less, but it is a great record.

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Nov 10, 2012 5:06pm

Then count me in as the cynical suspicious lot
Dont really think its unreasonable to wonder really
And take it from someone that seen Echo Chamber live
I wonder why she dosen´t play more instruments live on stage?
I only seen her play the keyboard and thats about it

And I guess the difference is if I guess, can´t speak for all artists
Is that its easier to believe when you see the artists actually perform live the instruments they are suppose to be able to play or "pull off"
I personally think its more that these days everyone says they can play this and that and its just harder to believe
Unless you see it, and having someone elses to play them seems bit weak especially if it goes on the record to say that you can play different instruments

Just my two cents :)

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Lindsey ( from Mexico)
Nov 10, 2012 5:27pm

OMG this girl seems so full of herself and seems very snotty
I saw interview, where she said she would love for Kevin Parker to come and play drums for her band, cause he plays so god
Loved it that the interview went...but he is busy on his own with Tame Impala
Got that right!
Maybe the reason is that she pisses off alot of the Tame Impala fans

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Nov 12, 2012 3:14am

Hahaha they are like Avril lavigne and nickel back without the ability to sell an album... Long live Lush

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Nov 12, 2012 3:18am

In reply to Nick:

So do you like Tamaryn and if so which one more?

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Luke Turner
Nov 12, 2012 1:45pm

Anyone else noticing that these snide commenters seem to be writing in a very similar style/tone?

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Nov 13, 2012 7:09pm

yeah i think that's maybe because all they're written by irked lush and tame impala fans, which is a pretty tedious state of affairs, huh...

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Nov 14, 2012 6:05am

i don't think it's that much of a stretch to assume the tame impala guy had quite a big hand in making this record.
she is his girlfriend, and recorded this at his "home studio" (bedroom) in perth. a lot of the playing sounds like that guy.
this basically sounds like a cooler (read: better influences to swipe) version of tame impala.

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Nov 18, 2012 11:41am

this is much much better than tame impala, so give her credit you guys. definately a huge broadcast influence here.

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David Allison
Nov 20, 2012 12:09pm

Charming dollop of thinly-veiled sexism in a lot of these comments. None of you have any idea how much Parker contributed beyond production. Prochet is a classically trained musician who writes her own songs. What's your point precisely?

I have to say, I've listened to this album a lot more than the new Tame Impala, impressive though the latter is. This album has tunes galore and it manages to be sunny without ever seeming slight or overly-ethereal. A knockout collaboration.

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Jan 3, 2013 9:16pm

Never start an article with a Prince comparison, especially one where he was 17.

A multi insrumentalist is not noodling on a stunted MIDI keyboard, with a limited effects package on hand, as appears to be the case here.

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Feb 9, 2013 11:49am

This is a great album which I've been playing for months, so from an aural perspective, arguments about who did what on it are perhaps moot.
When it comes to "musical multi-tasker", I'd say it perfectly describes Kevin Parker.
As for Madamoiselle Prochet .. who knows? ... who cares? .. she's clearly talented and my music collection is much the better for her.
I await further installments ... in the meantime, I'm still tripping out to this album in my spacesuit and hippy wig.

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