With their debut album set to drop on 27th May via the inimitable Ninja Tune, Max Graef & Glenn Astro have been making waves with their scruffy disco-tinged house bangers and dusty downtempo excursions.
We recently sat down with the up-and-coming duo to get a blow-by-blow explanation of their forthcoming excellent debut album, which sees the duo move away from their sample-based style to using more instruments and, interestingly, saw the duo come up the tracklist ahead of the album's actual creation.
“So the basic idea of it was to do a dance album without the obvious elements and maybe push it a bit further of what “danceability" and “functionality" in this context actually means,” explains the duo. “In a way testing the boundaries and challenging the listener, but also keeping our style and way of doing things.
We’ve also got the exclusive first play of ‘Flat Peter’ which is inspired by the French touch vogue of the late 90s, and is one of the more sample-heavy tracks to be found on the album.
"The intro was a simple jam on the MPC2000. In our tracklist plan there was actually no intro intended but in the end we liked the free use of the chords and the groove with no drums of the track to open up the record."
'WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY HARD BOILED EGGS ?!'
"This was the first track that we were happy with back when we started working on the record. The introduction of the track kind of represents our general attitude at the time. We were sick of a lot of the '0815' records coming out. '0815' is a german saying for mediocre or so so stuff. Hence the quote saying 'Fuck House music'. Ironically in retrospect it turned out to be one of the most approachable tracks on the album with a pretty straight groove and almost silly chord progression. We used a Roland JX-8P for the chords which we actually sold on ebay before we finished the track because we thought we were done. This made it rather difficult to edit it when we felt like reworking some of the parts later in the album process haha."
'MONEY $EX THEME'
"Based on a little sketch that was almost 2-years-old, we rediscovered the logic project and felt like it needs to be properly finished and put out. Most of the sounds, especially the drums and noises were all recorded through an old Ibanez Harmonizer rack which gave the track the liveliness it was missing. So many errors and clicks happened while recording which we kept almost entirely. Chords and melody were re-recorded on the TEAC reel-to-reel to make it sound a bit more live and rough since it was only MIDI chords and we couldn't quite decide on a synthesizer for it."
'THE YARD WORK SIMULATOR'
"In the tracklist plan we had this Simpsons quote ready and only decided right at the end to also use it as the album title. It kind of represents the silliness of modern society and was a good fit with our mindset. To suite the quote we wanted to arrange the track a little more unconventional. Also, most of the sounds and parts are meant to be simulations of a real band too. The Rhodes solo for example was entirely programmed in Logic and put into the reel-to-reel recorder to make it sound a little warmer. So was the bass which is also just a VST. For the rest we used the MPC to make the beat and the Crumar performer through the Ibanez harmonizer for the main chords. The Epic string break was made with the Korg MS2000."
"'Flat Peter' is a hommage to Mr Oizo and the whole French touch stuff that inspired us a lot through the years. It is one of the only more sample-based tracks on the album. There are few more hints and references within the track too but you have to find out about them yourself. Fun fact: Max did part A and Glenn part B. In the end there is a little skit that was intended to be a full track in the beginning. We never finished it but like it too much to leave it out. Some electronic boogie shit."
'CHINA NR. 04'
"This one came out one of the jam sessions we did. Glenn on the MPC and effects, and Max on the Crumar performer. The chord sound evolved from switching through the modes of the harmonizer. We used a little field recording of 2 Swiss girls talking about mandalas and zodiac crap in a train in England. While recording a weird noise from the train moving was captured which you can hear all the way through the song."
"The over the top detroit quote is making fun of all the pretentious idiots that think they are so damn deep. On the other hand we do love so much music out of Detroit, from techno to jazz, that we ended up being one those idiots too. The heart of the track is the MPC again. Not much else has been used on 'W313D'."
'MAGIC JOHNSON (ALBUM MIX)'
"This one was a little skit in the beginning which you can hear in the end of the track. After a while we liked it so much we wanted to make it a whole track. Again, most of what you can hear is a simulation of live instrumentation. Chords and melody were programmed in Logic and later re-recorded with Rhodes and the MS2000. The arrangement of the track is quite interesting since it is basically split in 3 different styles with the same harmonies. It starts off with a Brazilian groove (much slower than the original skit we produced), the what we call jazz-techno bit in the middle and later the jazz band vibe with a classic moving bass and a variation of the 'theme' chords played on the Rhodes Mark I."
"Not much to say about this one. The name comes from a delicious danish pastry you can buy at a 7/11 in Copenhagen for example. This is also one the few tracks with a little more sample use. Pretty straightforward, nothing too crazy."
"The rhythm and timing of the chords is inspired by Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'You know you know'. As with a lot of tracks on the album, we spent ages on writing the chord progressions, working out carefully how A and B parts work together. Due to some mistakes we split the track in 2 parts recorded individually on tape and reel to reel which is the reason why some parts run slowly out of sync. Now it is one of the reasons we like the track so much. Hidden in the title is another reference. This time it is referencing Janosch's 'Polski Blues' novel and paying homage to his other works. He is a huge and important inspiration for a lot of us in the crew."
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