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Max Tundra - Parallax Error Beheads You

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Artist: Max Tundra

Album: Parallax Error Beheads You

Label: Domino

Review date: Jan. 30, 2009

Ben Jacobs, a.k.a. Max Tundra, is a good postmodernist, the kind more artists should aspire to be like. The good postmodernists are the ones for whom the exhaustion of aesthetic categories isn’t an excuse to retrofit past fads with a facile alteration or two, who don’t put much stock in the idea that everything has been done before.

On Parallax Error Beheads You, Jacobs achieves his nonpareil aesthetic by taking what the exhausted postmodernists do – the resuscitation of an old idea with the addition of a couple superficial whistles and bells– and inflating those strategies a couple orders of magnitude until they achieve their logical end: the idea’s overcoming of itself (like in Super Mario Bros. , where the layout of Bowser’s castle repeats, adding extra challenges until it can hold no more and a new layout has to be devised). This is the difference between, say, Matt and Kim and the Fiery Furnaces, a mere redux versus an idea taken so far beyond itself that it becomes warped. Where others are happy with one genre or another, Jacobs creates an overabundance, moving from now wave to pop to video game soundtracks to TV theme songs in a matter of moments. Never content to merely stay on one idea, he mercurially rattles through them.

This attention deficit is mirrored not only in the movement from genre to genre, but also in his lyrics, his melodies and his glitch’d-out beats. And since the listener never has a chance to glom onto the songs at any one point, that elusiveness engenders a constant curiosity in what might come next.

The nostalgia of postmodernity, that backward glance, is apparent in every moment of Parallax Error Beheads You. While it can sometimes seem like a quagmire for the less creative, it’s transformative here. Because of the excess of ideas and because they’re cycled through so quickly and assiduously, Jacobs’ nostalgia isn’t simply some moribund recollection, but rather a kind of lens through which everything is focused in such a way that when it comes out the other side, it’s weird and refracted.

By Andrew Beckerman

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