London's electro-pop mastermind and Domino Records recording artist Max Tundra (aka Ben Jacobs) made his official USA debut last week, and it all started with a live set here at WFMU. The set was recorded on Jan 15th, and broadcast on yesterday's episode of Talk's Cheap.
When artists stop by the wfmu live room, they usually want to know about typical backline items like drums and amplifiers. Max Tundra was more interested in our toy piano and an ancient accordion. He layered glockenspiel, melodica, casio synths etc on top of his meticulously spliced beats and live vocals. Improv isn't necessarily what I'd been expecting from Max Tundra, but I should've known better -- in our interview Ben revealed that he had played in North America before, at a jazz festival in Nova Scotia. I suppose that different people will hear different things in Max Tundra's music; each song is so chock-full of hooks and ideas that one listen is never enough. I definitely recommend listening in headphones
Max Tundra Live at WFMU
Engineered by Matt LeMay and Jason Sigal on Jan 15th, 2009
Broadcast on Talk's Cheap Jan 20th, 2009 [playlist]
1. Which Song | 2. Lysine (mp3) | 3. Orphaned | 4. Labial | 5. Lady Madonna (instrumental cover)
"Which Song" and "Orphaned are from 2008's Parallax Error Beheads You, while "Lysine" and "Labial" are found on Max Tundra's previous album, 2002's Mastered By Guy At The Exchange (so named because it was in fact mastered by a guy named Guy at a place called the Excange). On that album, "Lysine" and "Labial" featured vocals by Ben's sister Becky Jacobs (who now sings in Tunng). Ben claims that he has since honed his voice through rigorous karaoke; he is the lone vocalist on his new album Parallax Error Beheads You, and it was a treat to hear his vocal take on the old favorites.
In between albums, Max Tundra has done official remixes for Von Südenfed, Mogwai, The Strokes, Kid606, the Pet Shop Boys, and many more. He approaches even his own compositions through the eyes of a remix artist -- songs like "Orphaned" seem to be built entirely upon samples of his own music.
Max Tundra also hosts a weekly radio show on London's ResonanceFM 104.4. Max Tundra's Rotogravure airs every Saturday at 2:30pm UK time (that's 7:30pm east coast USA time), playlists here. In 2007, Max Tundra did a Listener Hour here on WFMU, here's the playlist and archive. He's off to tour Europe, hope to see him back in the US again soon!