Hailing from Berlin, producer extraordinaire Max Graef is known for making vibrant and adventurous house music, but his latest release and first full length LP, Rivers of the Red Planet (ROTRP), is anything but another contemporary dance music album. Laden with trippy beats, jazzy melodies, and funky grooves, ROTRP will dazzle longtime fans with his fresh sound and impress newcomers with his beat dexterity. The album may sound pretty sampled (which is characteristic of previous Max Graef releases), but most of it is just Max showing off his adept production ability.
In this debut effort, Graef has managed to effortlessly blend the multicultural elements of every groove-based genre under the sun. Mainstays jazz, funk, IDM, and hip-hop all make an appearance, as well as soulful vibes from Nigerian vocalist Wayne Snow. There are even some flashes of brilliant acid techno on “Tamboule Fudgemunk” which will leave veteran fans of Max’s work feeling fired up and ready to dance. Then there’s the album’s runaway highlight, “Drums of Death,” which is a perfect fusion of wobbly funk ruptures and bright hi-hats that one would expect to hear at a swanky metropolitan jazz club. Following immediately after with “Vino Rosetto,” Graef turns this downtempo party into a full on IDM soirée with a warm analog bassline that bounces with unabashed bubbly vibes. Towards the end of the album, Graef slows things down on sex jam “Jane (Fur Hannah)” an RnB inspired groove that oozes bedtime beats and encourages scandalous behavior under the sheets!
From the opening jazzy jams of “Itzhoe” to the mysterious & punchy trip-hop rhythms on “Quackeljochen,” there’s a little bit of something for everyone on this melting pot of an album. Too technically proficient to be produced decades ago, yet still rich in sounds inspired from old records, ROTRP is a highly enjoyable listening album that will inspire all generations to reconsider the whole music genre classification thing. Who needs it anyways? If the music is good, it speaks for itself.