London Camden Monarch


The words ‘mad’ and ‘mental’ are tossed about with depressingly frequent inanity vis-`-vis modern dance music. For while off-the-wall samples and random noise elements might fly like sparks from latterday 12″ers, all this ‘insanity’ is underpinned by a desperately sane adherence to the predictable, sequencer-driven beat.

Not so, [a]Max Tundra[/a]. Max‘s music genuinely is mental. Full of bizarro morphs, abrupt signature changes and inspired leaps of multi-lateral thinking, his wonderfully misshapen pieces sound like a race between [a]Sun Ra[/a], Aphex Twin, Mozart and The Art Of Noise to reach the end of the song. You can see the distress in the faces of the less intrepid as their pre-programmed expectations of electronica crash in the face of Tundra‘s cubist assault of piano-player-style melodies, manic, mantric riffs and jackhammer shape-shifting.

To the lazy ear it might sound cacophonous, but adjust your listening habits and you’ll be rewarded. Tonight, Max is inspired, bouncing on the balls of his feet throughout, flinging out a fist, rave-style to indicate an imminent change of direction, loading live guitar, cabaret soul samples, clarinet and even melodica into the mix. The methodical madness really busts loose with ‘Bill Sholem Quintette’, which comes at you from all sides so relentlessly, so simultaneously, you’re almost laughing with pleasure at the sheer inventiveness of it all. You can’t dance to it, unless you’re a millipede – or even several millipedes – but it’ll give your mental muscles a workout they probably haven’t had in a while. Glorious.