Max Tundra Parallax Error Beheads You(Domino) Buy it from Insound
Max Tundra is not the kind of chap I readily associate with the rest of the UK electronic music scene. A likeable, amiable-sounding chap, with wit and humour, who releases critically acclaimed albums (Mastered By Guy At The Exchange was 12th on Pitchfork's top 50 for 2002), DJs on respected radio stations (his residency at Resonance FM), and is generally well-liked and well-respected. Not that the UK electronica scene is like LA in the 80s or something, but you know what I mean. Not for Ben Jacobs the austere inorganics of an Autechre, or the surreallistic flourishes of an Aphex Twin. Rather - as demonstrated on his new record - Max Tundra's output is charming, a little twee (in the good sense) and thoroughly likeable.
Parallax Error Beheads You is the long awaited third album, six years after Mastered..., and his second to feature his own vocal talents. These are what distinguish Tundra records from the general melée - Tundra's high, girlish tones actually complement the light-fantastic computer work on display here. There's lots of synths here, of course: but we're not talking replicas of Cars records, or Justice records, or Pink Floyd records. We're talking an Amiga-based operating system, full charge of the portamento control, and noises that sound like they've just leapt out of your NES. This is not the insular, cold, inaccessible severity that you might expect from such an esoteric title: Tundra's songs are fun, interesting and - handily for a reviewer - difficult to find accurate comparisons for.
Lead single Will Get Fooled Again is an instant winner, an off-kilter guitar leading into a crunchy drum break after which Tundra's unassuming vocals start harping on in clipped, rushed fashion (in a good way, you understand) about finding girls on eBay, Friendster or Google Image Search. Like the rest of the album, it breaks down into warped synth breaks and poppy drum loops, and is absolutely joyous and fun. Orphaned commences with a bewildering, looping break and whirls around this central theme like a Rephlex release forced through a Euro-pop filter.
It's all great fun and in a world where too many albums wear out their welcome, short: it'll last my whole commute and give me the opportunity to listen to one or two of my favourites again before I reach my desk. This is a good thing, naming no names. All things considered, as long as you don't go in expecting an album to change the world or to tax the grey matter, you'll find much to enjoy in Parallax Error.