Max Graef & Glenn Astro – ‘Magic Johnson’ (Ninja Tune)

Ninja Tune welcome Max Graef and close musical associate Glenn Astro to join their eclectic ranks for a two-track 12″, entitled ‘Magic Johnson’, set for release in early December. Graef is known for his non-conformist approach to House and the Berlin artist definitely doesn’t confine himself to the sounds held vehemently by many of the city’s partygoers. His debut LP, ‘Rivers of the Red Planet’ was a testament to this approach. It was a record smothered in Funk, Jazz, House, Hip-Hop and any number of sample worthy records picked up at his local OYE. Astro’s influences are just as diverse and smoothly demonstrated on Hyp 185, as well as releases on Tartelet, Space Hardware and their very own Money $ex Records imprint.

‘Magic Johnson’ immediately employs a wealthy arsenal of percussion to build a bustling groove. Smooth piano licks delicately enter soon after, with a comically arrogant lead in close pursuit that comes and goes as it pleases leaving vibrancy and colour in its wake. The flip is more subdued and hypnotic – murky even. ‘Tape Johnson’ is percussively sparse and the breathing space is noticeable. It seems great lengths have been taken to re-shift the focus onto fuzzy pads and chords which now feature much closer up in the mix.

It’s clear these guys make records for themselves; Graef and Astro pour their personalities so honestly into this 12″. Integrity aside, the 12” is an out-and-out House record, despite the numerous reference points that would clear a floor in isolation. With this in mind, the final destination isn’t solely for clubs. That doesn’t seem to be the point. The pair of concoctions offered up would happily suit a smoky Jazz lounge or hazy beer garden and, to be fair, would equally send a sweaty basement beyond west. It’s often cited that when you play a record out it needs to compliment the crowd, but it really doesn’t matter here. Either of these are malleable enough.

‘Magic Johnson’ is out on Ninja Tune 4th December – pre-order HERE.

Words: Nick Moore

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