GEN F: Neon Indian

Photographer Alyssa Banta
September 30, 2011

One morning last February, Alan Palomo woke up tripping. Moments earlier, while fast asleep, the Mexico-born, Texas-raised brains behind retrofuture space-pop project VEGA, took a dream hit of LSD. As Paloma opened his eyes and realized he wasn’t actually on drugs, he felt compelled to write a song for his friend Alicia Scardetta, whom he’d promised to accompany on an acid trip a few months earlier but didn’t. That sonic apology became four gloriously warped minutes now known as “Should Have Taken Acid With You,” the first song Palomo would record under the guise of Neon Indian.

As Palomo explains this over the phone from Denton, Texas, he’s having an equally cloudy awakening. Attempting to relate the weird parallels between that morning and this one, he says, “It’s only under the effect of a really potent psychedelic drug where you have that moment of déjà vu when it’s like, ‘Oh man, I’ve totally dreamed this before.’” Palomo has definitely developed a gift for making song sense of multiple brain exposures. While his work in both VEGA and Neon Indian insists on tweaking vaguely familiar grooves, a Neon Indian song boasts no digital gloss—it’s no-fi time travel at it’s most raw and hypnotic. Scardetta, a visual artist, was smitten by the detour in sound and is now sculpting the projections that will motor the Neon Indian wormhole/live set. “When she listened to it,” Palomo says, “her reaction was, ‘I think you should see this sound through.’ I don’t think I realized it at the time, but when I revisited it a few months later, it hit me in the head that it was a really gratifying experience to be able to write something like that.”

Neon Indian’s first full-length experience, Psychic Chasm, is like wiring your broken Walkman through that Nintendo Power Glove once left for dead and playing warped cassettes via repeated fist pumping. It’s addictive and slapdash, reclamations of corny synth voyages made ubiquitous in the ’80s and ’90s by public television, video games, department stores and cartoons. Samples were collected and manipulated to the max, with Palomo even mining the discography of his father, former Mexican lounge pop star Jorge Palomo. “I was collecting a series of snapshots,” the younger Palomo says. “I don’t want to say Psychic Chasm is a concept album, but it sort of serves as this unusual audio documentary.” As spacey as his music is, it’s not hard to imagine Palomo playing the melted sugar of “Mind, Drips” for his grandkids one day and saying something like Yeah man, that’s when I met your grandmother, man. What a trip! Look, there we are! Can you see us? Oh wow, look how weird my hand looks!

Stream: Neon Indian, Psychic Chasm

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Posted: September 30, 2011
GEN F: Neon Indian