Max Tundra

Parallax Error Beheads You

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Max Tundra's painstakingly constructed, impossibly intricate 2008 follow-up to his 2002 opus Mastered by Guy at the Exchange, Parallax Error Beheads You is the sound of those six intervening years whizzing by in just over 40 minutes. A giddy rush of convoluted melodies, hyper-precise sonic detail, and dazzling Day-Glo unpredictability, combining the meticulous luster of a big-budget pop production and the infectious idiosyncrasy of a chintzy vintage home recording (sequenced, like all of Tundra's work, on an antiquated Commodore Amiga computer), it's initially overwhelming and not a little bit disorienting, occasionally creating the sensation that one's head is about to explode. Given time, though, this emerges as easily the most infectious, engaging, and approachable of Tundra's albums so far, generally shoehorning his manic creativity into reasonable approximations of conventional pop song structures, framed around abundant, quirky hooks and appealingly restrained pop-soul vocals. As though to reassure hesitant listeners, the album opens on a particularly gentle note, with a simple, cheery harpsichord ushering in the breezy lilt of "Gum Chimes," before it unleashes two of Tundra's most buoyant pop confections to date: the herky-jerky "Will Get Fooled Again," whose fractured arcade-game bleeps and rock guitars (!) underscore typically absurd lyrics concerning a series of unorthodox Internet dating adventures ("I found a girl on Google image search/She was in the background of a picture of a church"), and the even more exuberant "Which Song," which almost sounds like it could be a massive radio hit, in spite of its gleefully unhinged musical accompaniment. Things get even stranger later on -- with "Orphaned"'s barrage of madcap micro-sampling (like Akufen on Adderall); the jittery lo-fi candy-thrash of "Nord Lead Three"; and the largely instrumental closer, "Until We Die," stretching out somewhat indulgently into a fragmented synth-prog epic -- but the vibe always remains persistently, even perversely, tuneful. Mannered English eccentricity never sounded so deliriously thrilling.

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