Max Tundra, real name Ben Jacobs, is an English multi-instrumental musician, singer and music producer. He has released two well-received albums for Domino Records: Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be (2000) and Mastered By Guy At The Exchange (2002). He released his third album, Parallax Error Beheads You on Nov. 18, 2008 in the US. He will play a pair of shows in NYC next week, at Bowery Ballroom and Le Poisson Rouge which mark his first time ever playing New York. He was one of the last ever musicians to record a Peel Session on John Peel’s radio show before Peel’s death. He hosts a weekly radio show on Resonance FM, called “Max Tundra’s Rotogravure.”
About Max Tundra by Owen Pallett
(Final Fantasy, ex-Arcade Fire, Last Shadow Puppets arranger)
Max and I met in Barcelona in 2005 at Primavera Sound. His slot was at 4am. He put on a mask, wrapped himself up in tape, and played forty minutes of music made mostly using Amiga sample tracker software from the late 1980s. There was virtuosic melodica playing, Pointer Sisters-style singing, and an eight-minute version of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound Of Music. I was wasted and ended up passing out on a beach in my underwear. When the sun rose, I woke up with dried merengue and sand glued to my hair, and in a daze, I realized that I had just witnessed nothing less than the best music performance of my life.
What sets Max Tundra apart from any other band in the world is his attention to detail. This album is impossibly full of ideas, seeking out every imaginable sound in the world and giving each their own curtain call. When you listen to this album, you’d think that it was made by an eccentric millionaire, with every name-brand pop music producer in the world contributing their own two seconds of material. Upon closer inspection, you’d realize that it’s been six years since Mastered By Guy At The Exchange, in that time, Max probably hasn’t had a single good night’s sleep.
I can’t compare this record to any record I’ve ever heard before. Even Max’s previous records are a distant echo. It is dance music, it is discourse, it is teen sex comedy, it is a video game, it is a dance troupe, it is a thirteen course meal with Amontillado. It is shock and awe. Listen and be humbled.
About the Commodore Amiga 500 by Max Tundra
There are no modern-day computers on this record. My PC is strictly for emails and Photoshopping the words Max Tundra into Coldplay line-ups. The main technology behind this and all of my albums has been the Commodore Amiga 500 – bestselling home computer at the time – running a $1 public domain software tracker program. The sounds don’t emerge from the Amiga itself however; the machine is used to control various synths, samplers and the like. I look at columns of numbers all day on the screen of a black and white television; these digits relate to pitches, durations and tones. A lot of the noises on my record are real; the cello, bass guitar, drums, piano, trumpet and others are all rehearsed and played by me, but sometimes I will use realistic fake versions of these noises. Each song is recorded in a different way; drumkits are recorded on mono cassette recorders twice, then stuck together on the left and right of a mix; string arrangements are planned and then layered up; each note of an electric guitar is sampled so that it can be sequenced in ways too complicated for my fat fingers to play at full speed. And then I have a cup of tea and sing my heart out.
MAX TUNDRA TOUR DATES
Jan. 16 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom w/ The Rosebuds
Jan. 17 New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge w/ JDH & Dave P
Parallax Error Beheads You
Street Date: Nov. 18, 2008
1. Gum Chimes
2. Will Get Fooled Again
3. Which Song
4. My Night Out
6. Nord Lead Three
7. The Entertainment
8. Number Our Days
9. Glycaemic Index Blues
10. Until We Die