Jazz hop direct from Berlin
With a name like Ratgrave, does it really matter? It does? Okay, it does. Ratgrave are a duo of Ninja Tune alumnus Max Graef and Julius Conrad. Berliner Graef’s house excursions and love of jazz and hip hop have imbued his many collaborations, DJ sets and releases with a kleptomaniac’s cool, while newcomer Conrad is the son of jazz bass legend, Jürgen Attig.
They’re called Ratgrave! I can see I’m going to lose this one. So how about this: their name sounds like it literally oozed out of Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain’, and the music could have come from there too. What you get by fusing Graef and Conrad together is insider knowledge of how to make a rhythm work. That means enormous, wandering bass, manic drums and enormous doses of funk, replete with plenty of spacey electronics and hyperactive switches of direction.
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The duo’s upcoming self-titled album was three years in the making, but it’s well worth the wait. Tracks like ‘Blizzard People’ recall Money Mark around the time of ‘Mark’s Keyboard Repair’ – all jazzy keyboard riffs and irrepressibly groovy retro synths – jamming with Return To Forever-era Chick Corea’s modular nous. Elsewhere, cuts like ‘Big Sausage Pizza’ splice that hot mess with electro, hip hop or drum ’n’ bass beats, while ‘Icarus’ includes a section that prompts fond memories of Nik Kershaw’s ‘Drum Talk’. This is fusion music at its inventive best… with an awesome name.
‘Ratgrave’ is released by Apron