the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You

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Overt frivolity is not really common in the context of ’serious’ music. Yet, it is there in abundance with the third release from Max Tundra, the pseudonym of choice for multi-instrumentalist Ben Jacobs. There is no doubt that this recording is the most sincere, polished work that he has delivered to date.

The ten tracks on Parallax Error Beheads You are – essentially – elegant pop songs. Smatterings of electronics and exquisite production aside, Jacobs distinguishes himself from a myriad of imitators by being an electronic musician who can write a pop song, as opposed to a simply writing a pop song with electronic elements. The pace is frenetic from the start; ‘Gum Chimes’ sounds like a harpsichord frolicking noisily with a video game, ‘Which Song’ is like a sound card heaving its bleeps on overdrive. Layers of synths and squeaks clamour for space amidst each composition, offset sweetly against Jacobs’ charming voice.

With lyrics as silly as “I found a girl on Google image search / She was in the background of a picture of a church” within the first three songs of the album, it would be easy enough to write off Parallax Error Beheads You as a simple excursion in surface-level observations and sweet, unassuming melodies. Yet deep within unfolds a complex, eclectic manner of composition.

It’s the sort of eclecticism that won’t go unnoticed – Jacobs programmed the album on a Commodore Amiga, and the album is available in a limited edition soup can with digital downloads (don’t ask, listen) – meaning the end result is more of a love or hate affair than a tranquil, casual acquaintance. His songs are something akin to a man possessed; that is, possessed by recording songs off the radio on the same side of a cassette tape over and over again. There are, perhaps, a few too many ideas here to make everything work, though when Jacobs pulls it off, it makes the six-year gestation period of this album seem very, very worth it.


Written by lexstatic

January 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Album Reviews

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