Max Graef Music Playlist: Guest Selector

Ahead of his date at Manchester's Roadhouse, producer of the moment Max Graef gives us his ten favourite albums of all time

Feature by Daniel Jones | 08 Apr 2014
  • Max Graef

Barely 22 years old, Max Graef has already crafted his way into the realm of jazz-fuelled beatfreakery with the style and grace of a seasoned pro. Comparisons to Pepe Bradock and Motor City Drum Ensemble are fair, but Graef has a dextrous touch all his own, honed through years playing guitar and drums in jazz bands as a youth.

His debut LP, Rivers of the Red Planet, lands on Tartelet this month and follows a steady stream of quality releases for the likes of Melbourne Deepcast and Box Aus Holz. Coming in at 16 tracks in less than an hour, it's a pulsing guide through a range of tempos and tones, from the graceful fuzz of Itzehoe through switch-flipping cinematic snippets, to straighter hip-hop vibes.

Which brings us to business. Here, Graef kindly donates ten of his favourite albums to our chart, and explains the significance of each artist in shaping the formidable sound of his new record.

Wojciech Karolak – Easy [Polskie Nagrania Muza]
Amazing and inspiring work by this Polish fellow. I also found his name listed as a composer on many other Polish funk and jazz records. Quite a genius! This was very inspiring in terms of crossing the borders of genre. Instant Groove, for example, is a funky freakshow! Without getting too annoying, Karolak experiments with the Rhodes like nobody I've ever heard before.

Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage [Blue Note]
Well, obviously one of the greatest musicians of all time: Herbie Hancock. Maiden Voyage is a beautiful album, probably one of my favourite jazz albums. I tried to record a version of the title track for the album but gave up quite quickly. I realised while recording how simple most of the parts are but still, I wasn't able to capture an even close-to-similar smooth and light mood. I learned a lot from this album, especially how less can be a lot more. Also, it's fascinating how there is not one second on this LP when I get annoyed by the brass section – very organic sound-fusion.

Breakout – Blues [Polskie Nagrania Muza]
My dad played this to me a few years ago and I loved it straight away. Since then I had my most trippy and colourful listening-experiences with this record. The guitar-solo on Gdybym był wichrem is absolutely insane. Tadeusz Nalepa had a way to make the guitar scream like a human, maintaining its sweetness and warm timbre with extremely exaggerated vibratos – a little like Paul Kossoff. How he starts the solo with the feedback is legendary to me. It has been a very inspiring album in terms of sound as well. I love how rough and dirty this record sounds.

Hysear Don Walker – Complete Expressions (Vol. II) [Brunswick]
Crazy good record. The Rhodes will always be the most mystical and beautiful instrument to me. This record is a full Rhode-trip, as I would call it, from beautiful and almost cheesy over smooth and extremely danceable to scary freaked-out stuff. I stole at least unconsciously a few chords and hooks when I recorded the Rhodes for my album.

A Tribe Called Quest – People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm [Jive/RCA]
Terrible artwork; incredible record. Luck of Lucien is probably one of my favourite hip-hop tracks of all time. I think Midnight Marauders was the first "real" hip hop I got confronted with and I loved how it combined a lot of energy with this laid-back smoothness. Years later, when I got really into hip-hop, I discovered Tribe's first album and I was blown away. I definitely tried to create a similar vibe on some of my tracks for the album but I always ended up a lot more melancholic. It's very, very hard to make happy but tasteful music!

Cro-Magnon Cro-Magnon EP [Jazzy Sport]
Cro-Magnon was one of my biggest discoveries last year, when Andy Hart pointed them out to me. Since last summer this record never left my bag. Crazy Japanese dudes making heavy futuristic funk and disco with a very natural jazzy swing to it. It inspired me a lot in terms of drum sounds and clever simplicity. Beyond The Summer is a wonky masterpiece, big inspiration!

Jimi Hendrix War Heroes [Polydor]
I've been a Hendrix fan since I was a little boy. The versions of Bleeding Heart and Midnight you'll find on this record are out of this world. With these two cuts you can hear a lot and, as the song is progressing, you can hear how Hendrix gets more and more comfortable with the tonality and mood of the tracks. I love this kind of progression. I learned to play the guitar by wanting to sound like Hendrix and I guess you can hear this poor attempt whenever I used the guitar on the album!

Ryo Kawasaki Juice [RCA]
Insanely futuristic, psychedelic and, surprisingly, casually funky for a Japanese virtuosic composer like Kawasaki. This record has the funk of The Meters and the weirdness of Zappa. There are great synth/sound experiments on there too. I have to admit I also stole some kicks from this recording... sick drum sounds throughout the record.

Hulk Hodn & Hubert Daviz Kaseta [ENTBS]
German instrumental hip-hop, very refreshing, and the production of Hubert Daviz continues to surprise me. I love his unconventional drum programming and sounds. Definitely an album I can put on, sit back and listen through entirely and feel very balanced and challenged at the same time.

Glenn Astro & IMYRMIND KDIM EP [Odd Socks]
At last an inspiration in house music: Glenn Astro & IMYRMIND. The freshest boys in the scene, if you ask me. There was not one house record in the last couple of years that I was inspired by more. I love the wonkyness and rawness. Very clever sound structures and sound mixtures: all four tracks progress into straight party starters without actually being anything close to straight in a rhythmic sense. The few house tracks I did for the album were inspired by this record for sure.

Max Graef plays the Roadhouse, Manchester, 20 Apr