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A micro-interview with Max Tundra

It's been six years since Max Tundra released his last record, Mastered By Guy At The Exchange - a record that was one of the primary inspirations for me when I was thinking about starting an MP3 blog. That album was an absurdist dream, taking elements of IDM, broken beat, glitch, the then-nascent sheen of electropop, and the completely wild abandon and pure silliness of Japanese pop, and fusing them all together into something that transcended mere pastiche. But even stringing all those genres and adjectives together, it was still something you needed to hear to understand - and that was why I thought, "Hell, I should be telling the world about stuff like this."

You can imagine my excitement, then, to learn that Max Tundra is about to release his third album, Parallax Error Beheads You - his first release in six long years. His sound is clearly not for everyone; it's as dense and demanding in its way as it is light and impish on the surface. Here's a track from the new release for your consideration:

Max Tundra - Which Song

I had a chance to ask Ben Jacobs, a.k.a. Max Tundra, a few questions about his new record in this micro-interview:

COMFORT MUSIC: It took you six years to get this new release ready - what the heck took you so long? Were you at all concerned that "they" (the music world at large) were going to catch up to you?

MAX TUNDRA: I find the recording process a total hassle, and am very easily distracted from it. All it takes is a phone call from a friend inviting me for posh Korean food or a screening of some weird film. Or that Curb Your Enthusiasm DVD I'm eyeing even now. Sometimes I just wander into the kitchen and have some tea and cake, or cook a dahl. But when I actually get into doing a track, then it's fun having a series of late nights, getting the headphones on, and becoming lost in the creation of something brand new whilst everyone is asleep. Also I wanted a load of new bands to form, get big, and then bang out three albums. There are a ton of new groups out there since my last record - some of them have even formed and split up in that time...

COMFORT MUSIC: You've been accused of "having too many ideas" - where on earth do they come from? What influences do you draw from as you're composing?

MAX TUNDRA: They are from intense dreams, usually caused by all the rich, middle-class foods I gorge on before going to bed.

COMFORT MUSIC: Have you ever been tempted to move away from the Commodore Amiga 500 as your principal instrument? (Is that even still a supported device in the modern world?)

MAX TUNDRA: The Amiga doesn't appear on everything, but it is the backbone to the tracks which are sequenced. It's cheap and easily replacable, and the software cost me $1. I am reluctant to teach myself how to use Ableton, Logic or any other PC/Mac software, as there are lots of people who know their way round those titles much better than me. I've been using this particular piece of Amiga software for most of my life, so am something of an expert in it. This might explain the indoorsy childhood I had (only learnt to ride a bike when I was 22, cos the local kids laughed at my stabilizers, so hid and programmed). The Amiga is just one small piece of the puzzle however; on the new album none of the sounds came out of the Amiga itself.

COMFORT MUSIC: What's in store on your tour? Full band? Visuals? And is there the slightest chance you'll hit the U.S.?

MAX TUNDRA: I always think that visuals are a cop-out, which distract from what's going on onstage. A lot of electronic-type acts rely on these so that they can hide behind their laptops checking their emails. I prefer to engage the audience with my ludicrous dance moves and my inter-song banter, and usually ask the venue for no visuals; am happiest with a harsh white light pointed straight at me. US tour plans are afoot for early 2009 - can't wait!

COMFORT MUSIC: What have you been listening to lately that caught your attention?

MAX TUNDRA: What's Up, Abe Vigoda, The Fiery Furnaces, Jensen Sportag, Dennis Greenidge.



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