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 meringue 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.

MAX TUNDRA ‘Parallax Error Beheads You’ by Paul Lester
There are more ideas crammed into the 41 minutes of Max Tundra’s third album than most bands manage in their whole careers. Parallax Error Beheads You, the third Max Tundra LP and his first since 2002’s Mastered By Guy At The Exchange, is a masterpiece of micro-melodies and sound-bytes; a triumph of splicing, dicing and editing. It’s an intricate mosaic of sounds and styles, some of which you might recognise from the last 30 years of pop, rock, prog, disco, funk, techno, rap, metal and soul, but many of which are completely new: either from a startling recombination of existing genres, or from Max inventing an original one himself. The attention to detail, and the sheer speed at which ideas whizz past you in the mix, will leave you stunned.        

“Each song contains many facets and genres, and the starts of songs are often stylistically extremely different to how they each end up, touring via a few styles along the way,” says the man himself, going some way towards explaining why there are multiple, simultaneous or sequential, melodies during each of the 10 tracks on Parallax, and why one song can sometimes sound like seven different bands from totally different worlds playing at once - Glycaemic Index Blues, to name but one of the songs on the album, is like Yes playing glitch techno with Pharrell Williams fighting Todd Rundgren at the controls while Green Gartside offers his creamiest falsetto. Just call it cosmic glitch-pop R&B.

“There are micro-melodies on the album – generally, layers and layers of stuff,” says Max. “Hopefully, the more you listen to it, the more new stuff will reveal itself, stuff you didn’t notice the first few times you played it. It’s intricate but that should mean it’s more rewarding over the distance, so that people can go back to it and hear new things each time.”

Mentioning that Which Song - earmarked as the second single from the album, following Will Get Fooled Again (which itself sounds like McFly in space) - sounds like Scritti Politti had they signed to Warp in 1991, Max admits, “I like the Scritti comparisons.” For him, 80s pop isn’t a Guilty Pleasure, it’s an untapped resource. “Even Nik Kershaw – he’s often dismissed as cheesy, but he also had really nice, catchy melodies that were quite Zappa-esque. I’m a big Zappa fan, and I also really like progressive stuff like Gentle Giant.” Among numerous other things: on his MySpace he lists 100 bands that he loves, from Art Of Noise to Andrew Poppy to Ariel Pink to Akufen to Autechre to Architecture In Helsinki to Alan Braxe to Arthur Russell to A Certain Ratio. And that’s just the A’s…

As for the aaahs and ooohs - the luscious, smooth vocals – Max says he arrived at those from years of “doing Prince at karaoke.” But how many people did it take to put together the multi-faceted extravaganza that is Parallax Error Beheads You? Three? Five? Nine? All of the above? No – one: Ben Jacobs a.k.a. Max Tundra, who handles all the many instruments, the vocals and the production. This might be why the album took six years to create.

“It’s my first album for six years because it took six years to record!” laughs Mr T. “My studio process is getting ridiculously intensive. What can I say? I’m a perfectionist; it can take me six months to do a song. “I’m in a really privileged position on a label like Domino,” he adds. “They’ve left me to it for six years, I’ve taken my time, and I’ve been able to make exactly the record I wanted. I wanted it to feel like an event, like something you’ve been waiting for for ages.”

The album’s closing track, Until We Die, in which the whole history of technoid whizz-kid pop are squeezed into 11 minutes and 4 seconds, took six months to assemble. “There are some peculiar sounds on that one – it’s like a ‘70s cop show theme meets the Mothers Of Invention with Crosby Stills & Nash-style three-part harmonies. I often accidentally reveal my influences despite trying to keep them difficult to pin down. I try and avoid writing music to genre.”

As for how he constructs a song, the words “painstaking” and “methodical” spring to mind, although it should be stressed that there are no signs on Parallax that this element of calculation means a lack of spontaneity, warmth and emotional engagement.” Each song is approached in a different way, but I often use a Commodore Amiga 500 for sequencing work,” he explains. “I don’t use PCs or Macs; I use a MIDI device to control the various instruments and hardware, the keyboards, synthesizers and samplers. And it all gets recorded onto a hard-disk machine. Hopefully it’s a more pristine sound than before but with the warmth of my other records.”

It’s not all electronic equipment and computer technology, though. “There are trumpets, violins, cellos, guitars, dulcimers, xylophones - whatever’s lying around,” he says. Jacobs/Tundra is entirely self-taught. “That’s another reason the record took so long to make. I thought a cello would be good so I had to spend three weeks learning to play that part and then layering it with so much stuff that people wouldn’t notice that I’m not exactly an amazing cello player!”

In between furiously mixing and matching and inventing new futures for pop he’s been supporting himself by doing remixes of other bands, both unofficially (Missy Elliot, The Strokes) and officially (Franz Ferdinand, Futureheads, Pet Shop Boys).

But why Parallax Error Beheads You? “It’s nothing to do with the music,” he says of the curious title. “I always try and come up with a semi-poetic but oblique phrase for my album titles. In this case, it’s from when you buy a cheap camera, and the eyepiece and lens are separate, and when you take a photo and get it back from the chemists the picture you see is slightly lower in the frame than you’d like - that’s known as a ‘parallax error’. All three of my LP titles are quite strange and don't have a great deal to do with the music.”

And yet for all its instrumental prowess, titular ingenuity and intricate intelligence, Parallax is a pop record. “There are nagging, catchy melodies,” says Max, who points out that some of his songs have started to get used on high-profile film soundtracks and TV adverts. “It’s for singing and whistling along to. That’s what I’d like – to walk past a building site and hear builders whistling a song of mine which they've heard on Radio 1. Some of the sounds and songs are not that far from the sort of pop music made by people like OutKast or Beyonce. Maybe I’m deluded about this, but there are things going on my record that you might hear on a song by Rihanna or Sugababes.”

Could he write a Top 5 hit? “I already have,” he reveals. “But I’m saving it for someone like Rihanna or Sugababes. It was written with a girl singer in mind. Hopefully I’ll be able to write songs for a few super-pop artists before the next Max Tundra album comes out!”