Max Graef is an incredibly talented dj and producer from Berlin known primarily for house, but has established a reputation for himself by digging into plenty of other genres. His album, Rivers of the Red Planet, gained critical recognition for its beautiful fusion of house and Dilla inspired hip hop beats. Thanks to his strong jazz and hip hop influence and his method of production, there’s an inherent variation in his music. In 2011 he started his own label, Box Aus Holz Records, which has become a sort of hub for a wave of upcoming instrumental artists. Graef has also released music on eight other labels throughout Europe, along with an Aussie output. As far as his sets go, he’s often restricted to playing house by clubs in Berlin, but there have been a few recent mixes he has put out that display just how wide and deep his knowledge of music is. I really can’t think of many artists that have such an extensive knowledge of so many kinds of music. This first mix isn’t just him, but is a great blend Latin and Brazilian music that won’t disappoint. For anyone struggling to find study music, this is great:
There was another recent mix he made for Carhartt WIP where he used only in house production, and the result was a surprisingly coherent showcasing. The mix beautifully builds from a handful of genres and develops a distinct sound consisting of stabbing spacey synths, a tight hip hop drum line (often accompanied with a bass line), some jazzy piano or sax, and rolling ambient synths that blanket the track.
The mixing of the songs isn’t incredibly intricate, in fact it’s quite sudden at times, but the key matching and track selection seems to disguise it. A few comic inspired DOOM-esque skits are scattered in as well, providing a loose plot and mood transitions throughout the mix. Take a listen below and melt away as Max Graef and co. take control of your senses.
Outlining his production process, Graef says his music is a product of his studio and the process itself. He doesn’t sample much anymore, only really his drums/ percussion and vocals. Together with some cheap synths, self recorded bass and guitar, and hand editing on low quality equipment he is led down a path every song he records, and it usually doesn’t end where he intends. There is definitely a certain free flowing quality to his music that results from this sort of minimally edited process.
“High quality sound was never important to me. Maybe it will happen some time. Maybe it will be a shame if it happens.”