Tame Impala’s Gossip Synth

Gossip, by Tame Impala, is the short, instrumental that bridges Eventually and The Less I Know The Better, from 2015’s Currents. The track is sparse, consisting only of a pulsating synthesizer and a dry-sounding guitar melody. The synthesizer track in Gossip comes from the Roland JV-1080, a legendary rack-mounted, digital synthesizer from 1994 that was one of the most popular synths of the 90s. In this article I’ll look at the Flying Waltz preset that was used on Gossip, the processing and effects added, and how the patch works. 

Firstly, here’s my remake of Gossip:

Roland JV-1080

The Roland JV-1080 is a rack-mounted synth, which means it doesn’t have a keyboard and is instead intended to be used as a sound module with a MIDI keyboard or sequencer. This allowed producers of the 90s to collect several rack-mounted synths (the Korg M1 and Roland D-50 had rack-mounted variants) to give them access to a large range of sounds.

Kevin Parker obtained a JV-1080 between the recording of Lonerism and Currents, and it was used heavily on the album, providing many of the synth sounds on tracks like Eventually. In an interview with AudioTechnology, he said:

“I got a few new keyboards. All I had last time was a Roland Juno 106 and a Sequential Circuits Pro One. I fell in love with those naff ’90s-sounding keyboards. I’ve got a Roland JV1080 synth module you can plug a MIDI keyboard into. An audiophile would think some of the patches are the cheapest, plasticky sounds. But for me they’re so romantically nostalgic. Because they’re the sounds I remember from when I was growing up in the ’90s. The sounds that remind me of something I heard on the radio in the car.

“That’s the truest kind of nostalgia I can find. Those plasticky sounds are far more nostalgic and hit a deeper spot for me than hearing a vintage Fender twin. Even though they’re sort of cheap sounds, they sound deeply fulfilling. There’s a lot of that on the album, glistening FM synth electro Rhodes, like a digital clav.”

Roland also recently released a software plugin version of the JV-1080 as part of their Roland Cloud subscription service. The software version is very faithful because it uses the same original samples as the hardware, and I used this plugin for my remake.

Because of its popularity, the JV-1080 can be heard in lots of 90s pop & dance songs, as well as PlayStation soundtracks from the time. Here are some instances of the Flying Waltz patch in the wild:

Flying Waltz

The preset that Kevin Parker used in Gossip is PRC: 099 Flying Waltz. The patch is a tempo-synced, rhythmic patch, so if you’re using the original hardware JV-1080, you’ll want to set the clock settings to MIDI in the System settings. If you’re using the Roland Cloud version, the tempo will be DAW-synced by default. The patch is also included on the Roland JV-2080, JV-1010 as well as the RD-600 Digital Stage Piano (as patch B65: RD Waltz)

After recording, the JV-1080 track has been processed to brighten and widen the tone. Some of this processing will have been done in the mixing stage, while further processing will have been done in the mastering stage. For my remake, I disabled the JV-1080 onboard effects and used Soundtoys Decapitator to add saturation, a high-shelf EQ to add brightness, compression, Ableton delay, iZotope Ozone Imager 2 for stereo widening and Valhalla VintageVerb for reverb.

00:00
  • Flying Waltz Dry 00:00
  • Flying Waltz Processed 00:00

Dry Guitar

The guitar in Gossip has a distinct, dry tone which is a result of being recorded directly into the audio interface, instead of through a mic’ed up guitar amplifier. In the same AudioTechnology interview, Kevin said “I DI all guitars… I haven’t used an amp in years”

The effects are minimal, with only sparse reverb present. My guitar, a Les Paul, is very bass-heavy, so I had to use an EQ to scoop out the bass to match the original guitar tone on Gossip. I EQ cut below 620Hz and used Valhalla VintageVerb with 17% mix and a decay time of 1.8 seconds.

00:00
  • Guitar Dry 00:00
  • Guitar Processed 00:00

Flying Theory

What makes the Flying Waltz patch so interesting? You can look under the hood in the JV-1080 plugin and discover a lot going on. There are four different layers in the Flying Waltz patch, and each layer is pitched differently.

  • Tone 1: Org Vox A sample
  • Tone 2: Syn Vox 2 sample, pitched +7 semitones
  • Tone 3: Org Vox A sample, pitched +12 semitones
  • Tone 4: Org Vox A sample, pitched +19 samples

As you can see, playing one note triggers four pitches, the root, a fifth, and those two notes repeated an octave higher. Playing two notes on your MIDI keyboard will trigger eight different tones, or four notes with an octave added on top. Here’s what all the tones for the Gossip chords sound like in isolation:

00:00
  • Tone 1 00:00
  • Tone 2 00:00
  • Tone 3 00:00
  • Tone 4 00:00

The rhythmic effect in the Flying Waltz patch comes from the LFOs. Each of the four tones has two LFOs, with the first being an 1/8th note LFO opening and closing the filter (called TVF in the JV-1080), while the second LFO modulates the volume and panning. The real genius lies in Tones 2 & 4 LFOs being inverted, so while Tones 1 & 3 filters are open, the 2 & 4 filters are closed, and vice versa. This creates a 1/16th note rhythmic effect.

The second LFOs control volume (called TVA in the JV-1080) as well as panning. The panning helps create natural stereo width within the patch, with the tones moving around the stereo image in rhythm with the patch. All the LFOs are a Trapezoid shape, which is somewhere between a triangle wave and a square wave, and is mostly found on digital synthesizers.

00:00
  • No LFO 00:00
  • LFO - Same Polarity 00:00
  • LFO - Inverted Polarity 00:00

Download

If you want to explore these sounds further then consider supporting the site by becoming a Patreon supporter, which gives you access to the Ableton Projects, MIDI files and multitrack stems from this remake of Gossip, as well as my remakes of Eventually, Nangs, Reality in Motion and Yes, I’m Changing.

Header artwork by FLYK3N

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9 thoughts on “Tame Impala’s <i>Gossip</i> Synth”

  1. Off topic but I was wondering if it was in any way possible to replicate the synth solo from I Want to Break Free by Queen on the guitar.

  2. Downloaded the Ableton Projects. I have the required plug ins but the arturia ones seem to reset to default settings. Just wondering is this intentional or am I missing something?

    1. An MGMT article written by me will be published on Reverb.com in a week or two, it looks at the singles from Oracular Spectacular.

  3. Loved the example and how indepth you went about making the patch. Any way I can convince you to do bladerunner 2049 or any com truise?

    1. I might do a Com Truise one and I love the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack, I’ll have another listen but I have a feeling it might be a little too complex to cover in a synth sounds article.

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