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Max Tundra
Parallax Error Beheads You Iain Moffat , October 21st, 2008 16:19

Max Tundra

We may be jumping to conclusions here, but it's hard to imagine that the powers that be at, say, Woolworths looked at an album called Parallax Error Beheads You, spotted it contained tracks like 'Glycaemic Index Blues', heard it was by an artist specialising in glitchcore and decided to give it pride of place in their stores. Still, poor pick'n'mix purchasers; they don't know what they're missing...

Mind you, it's often appeared in the past that Ben "Max Tundra" Jacobs was perfectly happy with this state of affairs, since, although he's always been a tiny dynamo live (frequently engaging in such behaviour as whipping out a copy of Paul McCartney's All The Best! to make sure he didn't get the words to his cover of 'Coming Up' wrong), his two previous albums have had their share of impenetrable moments, and his work since 2002's Mastered By Guy At The Exchange has been sporadic at best.

Yet suddenly he seems to have embraced the notion of accessibility, so much so that even when employing techniques designed to resonate with his familiar constituency he's done so to warmer effect. 'Orphaned', for example, is a symphony in pops and clicks that begins in starkly disjointed found-sound fashion, yet, like the aural equivalent of the Magic Eye pictures of the mid-90s, the further you're drawn into it the more of a grounded, melodic piece it seems. Or there's 'Nord Lead Three', which poses the question of what would have happened if, twenty years before Mark E Smith embarked on his Von Sudenfed adventure, he'd hooked up for a similar experiment with Yello. Yes, the results are an abrasive Tasmanian devil of a track, but wholly satisfying nonetheless.

Beyond this, meanwhile, the evidence that Tundra may have gone - by his standards - pop piles up relentlessly. The recently mined 'Will Get Fooled Again' might go further on the BPM front than any single since the heyday of Digital Hardcore, but it's a cheering tale of disastrous meetings with women online (including, wonderfully, one "on Google Images Search / She was in the background on the picture of a church"), and, while it's still difficult to imagine 'The Entertainment' filling too many dancefloors it's not without its unannounced hands-in-the-air whooshing. Better yet, the deceptively epic finale 'Until We Die' indicates he's been listening to whatever it's-still-the-70s FM radio station had been blaring out as Daft Punk were making 'Discovery', while 'Number One Days' is an upbeat nihilist rumination whose generosity with the keyboards is comically boundless and which is stalked by the spectres of Prince and Julian Cope. Furthermore, 'Which Song' is, quite simply, the greatest Scritti Politti song recorded by not Scritti Politti in history, which is A Very Good Thing and no mistake.

Best of all, there's a terrific air of affability to proceedings here: even the withering comment "you're as sophisticated as a sodastream" sounds anything but arch, and when he sings of an ex-girlfriend "I felt left out when you did drugs / I hope I can survive without your hugs", the effect, rather than making the listener wants to scold the twee away, is to nudge the lovable-o-meter to laughable levels. Sure, he's never made anything appraoching a bad record before, but the greatness that Max Tundra's turned out to be capable of still proves to be a revelation of earth-shattering proportions.

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