Though Neon Indian majordomo Alan Palomo talks film school and Tarantino when speaking with NPR, music geeks will quickly understand what the twenty-something’s third album, VEGA INTL. Night School (Mom + Pop), is all about. Recalling a tongue-in-cheek splice-merging Scritti Politti, Pet Shop Boys, and a young Prince, VEGA INTL. Night School is the perfect “chillwave” party record that time forgot. Palomo’s clever use of irony informs his effects-laden miracle pop with pictureperfect ’80s snapshots, from Sade-sleazy saxophone solos and chorus-heavy guitar squalls to a collection of super-vintage hardware synthesizers providing both freaky psychedelic color and nostalgic buzz. Though confessing a debt to “Balearic” and “Belgian Beat” styles, VEGA INTL. Night School is as old school as an ’80sthemed episode of Nick at Nite—and more enjoyable.
Composed and recorded in a cabin aboard a cruise ship, DFA’s Plantain Recording Studio in New York, Pure X’s practice space in Austin, and engineer Ben Allen’s studio in Atlanta, and mixed in Brooklyn with Alex Epton (currently of XXXchange and formerly of Spank Rock), VEGA INTL. Night School was created entirely in the box, using Ableton Live and a bevy of classic synthesizers and drum machines.
Quoted as describing his first album, Psychic Chasms, as “being surprised by the instrument,” and his sophomore effort, Era Extraña, as “trying to turn the tables and surprise the instrument,” Palomo explains that VEGA INTL. Night School is about “having a symbiotic relationship with the instrument. On the first two records I wouldn’t know what I was doing and then suddenly I’d hit a button and something cool would happen; that would be the basis for a new song. Now I’m going to get the results that I want out of the instrument. I finally have enough control and understanding that I can make the instruments do some pretty complex things, and that is satisfying.”
And master the instruments he has, even building his own DIY synth, a Bleep Labs PAL1980X, which he used on his latest effort alongside such vintage behemoths as a Moog Minimoog Voyager, E-Mu Emulator II, Korg M1, and Korg PS-3100.