Tame Impala - Gossip Synth
In this article, I'm going to revisit Gossip, by Tame Impala. The short, instrumental piece, included on the 2015 album Currents, consists of a pulsating synth line and dry DI'ed guitar leads. The synth was recorded from a Roland JV-1080, a rack-mounted, digital synthesizer that used sampled elements to emulate a variety of sounds. I actually included a section on Gossip in Part Three of my original Tame Impala synths series. However, I've decided to revisit it, along with a couple of other Tame Impala songs, in part because Roland has since released a software JV-1080 instrument as part of their Roland Cloud library of instruments. It is a subscription-based service but comes with a one-month free trial.
To find the patch that Kevin Parker used in Gossip, open the Roland JV-1080 plugin and navigate to patch 99 in bank C, titled 099: Flying Waltz. This will open up the original unit's patch, the same one used for Gossip. One adjustment he seems to have made to the patch is he changed the effect from Pitch Shifter to 4Tap Pan Delay, which can change by pressing the edit button and navigating to the MFX section.
Compare this plugin recording to Gossip and you'll notice that the synths in Gossip sound much brighter and more driven, likely as a result of being processed with some of Parker's outboard gear, such as his Empirical Labs Distressor. To create this effect, you want to run it through a saturator just to the point where it's about to break up, and EQ in some higher frequencies, particularly around the 2.84 kHz mark. You can do both in Soundtoys Decapitator, a 'secret-weapon' plugin that models analog saturation units. Simply raise the drive knob above 4 and boost the tone knob to dial in more treble to the signal.
What makes the Flying Waltz patch so interesting? You can look under the hood in the JV-1080 plugin, and you'll discover a lot going on, there's 4 different voices and two LFO's for each voice, that makes 8 LFOs! Luckily the LFO's are all the same speed, however they affect each voice in different ways, modulating the filter, volume, and pan position in different amounts to acheive a really complex effect. Here's the patch with all the LFO's disabled, and the filter cutoff controlled manually.
Another part of the patches programming that I love is that one of the voices is pitched up a fifth, or +7 semitones. This lends itself to colourfully voiced chords by adding colour tones a fifth (or 7 semitones) above the note played on the keyboard. For example, you play an E but the synth produces an E and a B. Play an E and a G# and the synth will produce all 4 notes of an E major seventh chord!
Exploring the Flying Waltz
One issue with this patch is that it's very recognisable, especially from the 90s era, having been used by Diddy, George Michael, and even appearing on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The good news is that JV-1080 has hundreds of other patches to be explored, and you can also create new, fresh patches from scratch to use a basis for your own original piece of music.
That said, there are also plenty of other subtle ways you could use this particular JV-1080 patch, for example, you could use it as a layer, you could reverse it, you could sample it and chop it up, you could run it through 100% wet reverb, you could slow it down, just be creative! I'll leave you with an original jam of me using the Flying Waltz patch with some cool chords and layered Juno parts from TAL U-NO-LX. If you know any other songs that use the Flying Waltz preset, let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the playlist!
The patch is also included on the Roland RD-600 Digital Stage Piano, as patch B65: RD Waltz. The modulation starts at half-speed, so you have to hold the mod-wheel up to get it to the right speed. Listen to it here!
Artwork by FLYK3N