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/ :: posted @ 07:26 / 29 September 2008 ⊙ :: Track Reviews
Max Tundra :: "Orphaned"
From Parallax Error Beheads You (Domino; 2008)

“There are no modern-day computers on this record,” Max Tundra explains in the press release for his upcoming album Parallax Error Beheads You. Calling his comment “strange” would be an understatement, considering Parallax ranks among the most technically proficient pop releases of the year. So what does he use to stitch together the simultaneously chaotic and perfectly manicured songs which comprise Parallax? A Commodore Amiga 500 running a “$1 public domain software tracker program.” To someone who knows little about the history of computers, that name conjures up images of a box resembling a microwave and spurting bits of chattering Morse code.

But who cares, right? What really matters is Max Tundra’s obsessive recording technique, which involves sampling a wide variety of instruments (many of which he plays himself) and arranging split-second and multi-second sound bytes (displayed as columns of numbers on the Commodore Amiga, at which Max stares for hours on end) of said samples to form the instrumental foundations of his songs; Tundra’s wafer-thin vocals wavering in artificial pitch are merely the cherry on top. “Orphaned” takes this technique to its logical extreme, firing BBs of truncated synth blasts, slices of skittering drum machine beats, Max’s own futile vocal interjections (which invariably are drowned out in a sea of whatever the hell you want to call this), and a whole slew of other less recognizable shit to create an impossibly intricate rhythm. It’s a pointillist approach to the electronic pop song: taken up close, it appears to be mostly empty space punctuated by random clips of sound. Step back, however, and the makings of a fully formed and impeccably structured dance song become apparent. “Parallax” refers to how a change in our physical orientation in relation to an object can alter the way we perceive that object. As the album’s title and music would suggest, this realization can be devastating.

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