Published May 25, 2016After teasing us with two EPs and other brief collaborations, Max Graef and Glenn Astro now deliver The Yard Work Simulator, their first album as a team. While it doesn't offer up anything too unexpected, it does make good on the promise the duo's work up to now has shown. Fans of left-field house, funk, hip-hop and jazz will all find something to their liking on this set of extra gritty and kinetic instrumentals.
Graef and Astro stay committed to a few essential building blocks throughout Yard Work. Shimmering Rhodes chord progressions and exuberantly jazzy synth leads comprise the melodic content, supported by understated bass lines that explore all the nooks and crannies of a given scale. In terms of beats, the duo indulge in house and hip-hop equally, alternating between chunky 4/4s and stuttering breakbeats.
The strength of Yard Work is the way Graef and Astro consistently manage to rein in a cacophony of sounds and ideas in a way that produce a solid groove. Both artists are adventurous and playful, unafraid of taking risks, so while Yard Work takes some erratic turns at times, the superfluity of ideas never leads to disorientation, mainly because that groove remains intact throughout.
All this makes Yard Work a commendable summation of the casually cool take on house and downtempo hip-hop that has defined the work of these two producers to date. Now comes a bigger challenge though, because any followup will have to break new ground in a way this album didn't necessarily need to. (Ninja Tune)